(Non)SENSE! is an experimental work for voice and ensemble (or piano), which explores the colors, sounds and shapes of nonce words through music. The piece calls for a wide variety of vocal timbres, bel canto and extended techniques inspired by the phonemes of the individual words. It combines art song, melodrama and performance art to create a dramatic experience for both the listener and performer. The text is based on a “dada” version of Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” from “Alice Through the Looking Glass” produced by the Dada Poem Generator of La Salle University. By stripping the poem of its meter, rhyme, syntax and narrative I gained freedom to explore the whimsical sounds of Carroll’s neologisms and create musical gestures which express the strangeness of their affective content.
The score, though composed with a certain degree of precision should be treated as a map of empathic potentialities rather than a specific list of technical instructions. The performers may therefore feel free to use the tonal information in the score as a guide to creating a dramatic experience for the listener. Extended piano techniques can be varied according to the pianist’s fantasy and the physical disposition of the instrument. The singer should use as wide a palette of vocal timbres as possible to communicate the array of colors in the text.
(non)SENSE! is dedicated to my dear friend and colleague Tara Venditti with whom I worked closely to develop the techniques and notations in the present score. Our collaboration was funded by a generous grant from the Künstlerisch-Wissenschaftliche Doktoratschule of the Kunstuniversität Graz.
TEXT by Lewis Carroll (Dadafied version by Artificial Intelligence)
'twas one rested mimsy flame callooh! in day!
he that beware borogoves and wood two! callay" he.
Thou that sought -;
Gimble brillig he stood.
Took and all dead mome so through.
Fruminous by whiffling.
Left shun back bird were blade snicker-snack! vorpal.
Came raths; (Not wraths, raths!)
With slain foe and it the maxnome head and the the tones it and and catch!.
In the in uffish tulgey its my;
Son! through claws and. Jabberwacky