Disordered Songs (2005)

music by David Raphael Scott
text by Steven Mayoff

Disordered Songs was commissioned for the 28th annual Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition.  The idea for this song cycle grew out of the method used to create the poetry.  Poet Steven Mayoff provides a brief description of this:

The texts for Disordered Songs were excerpted by the composer from a larger series of 36 poems called Fridge Magnet Cycle.  These poems were created as a playful exercise using a Magnetic Poetry Kit. This somewhat restrictive method of working soon became a more serious discipline during a period of personal mourning.  I now see these poems as snapshots of the subconscious running a gamut of emotions using a language that is both absurd and tactile.

Taking my cue from Mayoff’s poetry, I created a cycle of very short songs that can be excerpted, ordered, and grouped freely.  Though certain restrictions do apply, the semi-finalists in the Eckhardt-Gramatté Competion are asked to choose the songs they wish to perform and create an overall structure and ordering for the set.  This allows the participants to personalize their interpretation of Disordered Songs.  The entire cycle is approximately 16 minutes in duration.

Restrictions for the competition:
The song entitled Moon Blood/Blood Moon must be included in the set of performed songs.  This song is in mobile form and represents the cornerstone of Disordered Songs. Each individual word of the poem is set to music with or without piano accompaniment.  The singer is asked to create a song through reordering, overlapping, and/or repetition of these individual elements.  In short, this song must be “constructed” by the singer just as a poem is “constructed” using a Magnetic Poetry Kit.  The duration of Moon Blood/Blood Moon can vary from a minimum of 3 minutes to any maximum duration.

The remaining 10 songs in this cycle are of fixed duration and together represent about 10 and a-half minutes of music.  Having established the duration of Moon Blood/Blood Moon, the singer must choose from the remaining 10 songs to fill out the desired duration of the program.

Disordered Songs worked very well in competition setting.  The cycle was different for every performer and allowed them to add another aspect of control to their performances.  The winner of the 2005 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition was Layla Claire.  She performed the new cycle on her cross Canada tour in the fall of 2005.

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