Saturday, December 01, 2007

Spoken and Red: The Pool and the Soup at the Red Room

Alessandro Bosetti @ The Red Room, Baltimore, MD
November 30, 2007

"The Pool and the Soup"

Andrea Hayes, Melissa More, Gina Denton, Ciat-Lombarde, John Berndt, Charlotte "Blessed" Benedetto, Audrey Chen, Jenny Graf, George Martin, Alessandro Bosetti: voices

Longtime readers of HurdAudio should be familiar with my long-standing issues with - and aversion to - speech and words in music. Even within excellent compositions such as The Pool and the Soup there is still a lingering reluctance to embrace the heavy concrete materials of language. With the additional focus on stretching the interactive dynamic through conversation to include the audience this was an amazing piece that touched upon several raw nerves.

Alessandro Bosetti crafts this music by drawing upon the improvised stories and words brought into play by the performers and expertly manipulates several pre-determined parameters from the prompter's chair. The prompter determines who speaks, who they speak or respond to, how fast they speak, if they sing or intone what they say, repeat phrases or build sentences by systematically adding one word at a time. The prompter even has the option of selecting a new prompter from the performer pool and physically switching places with that individual. The density and jumble of words varies dramatically and attempts to literally draw the audience into the conversation - and resulting sonic space - adds an unusual tension to the performance. This included a brief period when I simply couldn't come up with anything interesting to say in response to Melissa Moore's attempt to strike up conversation. My fixed-state audience-stage sensibility proved too difficult to suspend after a hard work week.

The comparisons to other text-compositions are inevitable. The sense of story telling shared many similarities with Randy Hostetler's wonderful Happily Ever After. The live realization and absence of electronic manipulation makes The Pool and the Soup into something strikingly dynamic and pleasantly unpolished.

John Berndt indicated that this composition was being "work shopped into existence," and one could sense the quality of the performance as a reading at a retreat for artists. The rough edges were left intact for sympathetic ears and minds to mull over. For these ears and this mind there was plenty of space to ponder why words and language are both riveting and repelling at the same time. The layering of multiple conversations along with material in spoken Italian and Chinese successfully drained "meaning" by overdosing on it. By treating social interaction as a compositional parameter Bosetti crafts music from the very materials that are the most challenging: meaning and audience. The fact that The Pool and the Soup is successful has these ears and intellect deeply intrigued.

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