FOR CLARINET QUARTET AND CHORUS
In Motherless Home — 1929, I sought a literal connection between the music and the image. Instead of developing a figurative response via a story or program of some sort, I constructed an algorithm that mapped parameters of the image to parameters of sound, allowing an inner vocabulary to emerge from the correspondence between both mediums. Using specialized software, outlines of the family members in the image were traced onto musical staff notation — a visual procedure similar to what composers were doing by hand in late fourteenth century France. By depicting these shapes literally, I was able to avoid obvious musical analogues and instead create entirely new sound objects.
I chose “Motherless Home” from among the many wonderful Brown County photos because it elicited an urgent curiosity — Where was this mother? What was written on the faces of these family members? These issues come to the fore as I begin work on an opera involved in answering such questions.