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...empty spun-sugar shibboleth... : Performative Impossibility as a Compositional Device

Carraher, Ryan W. "...empty spun-sugar shibboleth... : Performative Impossibility as a Compositional Device." Masters Thesis, Tufts University, 2019.
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In ...empty spun-sugar shibboleth... the unique, identity crafting, physical system of the performer and the web-like relationships intertwining the embodied mind, the mechanical instrument, the musical notation and the dynamic environment coalesce to form a singular meta-performer. An unstable multiplicity no longer driven by a quantitative, measuring consciousness and performative absolutes, but rather a reflexive, indeterminate, haptic, qualitative feedback loop where gesture (and its raw material, physical movement) and the natural responsive modification of felt physical states are given primacy as expressive and formal devices.

This work uses graphic notation to present the performers with grandiose, physically impossible tasks. The performer’s mind, mouth, tongue, fingers, vocal chords, appendages and throat are de-coupled and pitted against each other culminating in an informational overload unavoidably leading to "system failure.” The formal and temporal aspects of this work hinge on the idea of inevitable failure. Often times the information presented is physically impossible or uncomfortable, resulting in strained, fragile sounds. Other times the physical tasks notated have no audible effect on the sonic result but rather influence the psychology of the performer. All of these complex, paradoxical, physical gestures are writhing under the skin folding into each other and manifesting through a single voice.

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