Beneath the Surface (2018), for piano and electronics, is a compositional response to my return to work shortly after giving birth to my son. Exposing the raw and intense qualities of new motherhood, separation anxiety (both mine and his), and the constant heartache that lie just beneath the surface of a refined and professional facade, the piece is a personal reflection of one challenging aspect of working young motherhood in contemporary America.
Beneath the Surface is a highly structured composition for piano; the composed melody and intricate set relationships frequently unfold into bursts of harmonic color. The piano is live-processed and distorted, reimagined in a world that is both exceptionally beautiful and feels completely out of control. The score is spatially notated. Time is malleable and influenced by the chromatic color fields representing the electronics in the score. Dynamics and articulations occur in response to technological processes that are outside of the pianist’s control.
And beneath everything, beneath the carefully constructed surface of sound, beneath the refined and logical collections of pitch relationships, beneath the full spectrum timbre, lie soft distortions, reflections, and impressions, almost unheard beneath the surface and sounding through analog tape memories in all of their noisy and imperfect splendor.
Ann Yi and Amanda Schoofs premiering Beneath the Surface on Sensoria: Experiments in Sound and Performance
photo credit: Paul Mitchell