The poetry of being Present! An analysis of Transcendental thought in the work of Stuart Saunders Smith

Palavras-chave: Stuart Saunders Smith, Transcendentalism, contemporary music, percussion

Resumo

New England composer Stuart Saunders Smith (1948) is immersed in a milieu that echoes the American Transcendentalist movement. Transcendentalist figures, like Emerson and Thoreau, discussed notions also emphasized by Smith’s: autonomy, intuition, experience, self-reliance, self-actualization, pacifism, and a claim that each person is part of a single universal spirit—Oneness.

This article focuses on how such notions reflect in Smith’s compositional process and how two particular aspects, pacifism and Oneness, reflect in the music that emerges from this process. In Smith’s compositional process, experience, “filtered” through intuition, is more important than pre-compositional systems. Therefore, his work is seen as antithetical to formalism. Oneness is achieved by leveling the roles of composer, performer, and audience. This procedure appears particularly in his trans-media systems, mobile compositions, and co-existence pieces. Pacifism emerges in his use of intricate rhythms. These stances suggest Smith’s music as part of a lineage of thought that traces back to the Transcendentalists: the idea of facing tradition critically while upholding free agency as the primary source of artistic creation.

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Biografia do Autor

José Augusto Duarte Lacerda, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso

As an advocate of new music, José Augusto Duarte Lacerda, also known as Zeca Lacerda, has worked alongside composers such as Steve Reich, John L. Adams, George Lewis, Elliott Sharp, Jeff Herriott, James Romig, Gabriela Ortiz, Christian Wolff, Bob Becker, Lewis Nielson, and Stuart Saunders Smith, having premiered works by the latter seven. In Brazil, he has performed with the country’s premier orchestras, such as the Brazilian and the Petrobras symphony orchestras.

Zeca currently teaches at Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, where he also directs the university’s percussion ensemble [re]Percute UFMT. He has released an album of solo vibraphone music, through Soundset Recordings, and has published an article on Percussive Notes. Awards received include Percussive Arts Society and Zildjian scholarships. He earned a Doctoral degree in Contemporary Music from Bowling Green State University, a Master’s in Music from the University of Miami, and a Bachelor’s in Music from Universidade Federal de Santa Maria.

Referências

BERMAN, Art. Preface to Modernism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

BUELL, Lawrence, ed. The American Transcendentalists: Essential Writings. New York: Modern Library, 2006.

CAGE, John. “On Silence.” YouTube video from an interview realized in New York. April 02, 1991. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcHnL7aS64Y.

EMERSON, Ralph Waldo. Essays and Lectures: Nature: Addresses and Lectures / Essays: First and Second Series / Representative Men / English Traits / The Conduct of Life. Edited by Joel Porte. New York: Library of America, 1989.

–––. “War.” In The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Vol. 11, Miscellanies, edited by J. E. Cabot, 177-201. Boston: Fireside Edition, 1909.

FALVO, Rob. “Stuart Saunders Smith’s ‘Ground’ for Solo Glockenspiel Clear Complexity.” Percussive Notes 49, no. 3 (May 2011): 43-49.

FRONTHINGHAM, Octavius Brooks. Transcendentalism in New England: A History. New York: G.O. Putnam’s Sons, 1876.

IVES, Charles. “Essays Before a Sonata.” In Three Classics in the Aesthetic of Music, 104-185. New York: Dover Publications, 1962.

LACERDA, José “Zeca.” “The Silence… An Introduction to the Inner World of Stuart Saunders Smith.” Percussive Notes 50, no. 6 (November 2012): 40-47.

MEYER, Leonard B. Music, the Arts, and Ideas: Patterns and Predictions in Twentieth-century Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969.

MULLER, Jeremy. “Amidst the Noise: Stuart Saunders Smith’s Percussion Music.” Percussive Notes 52, no. 4 (July 2014): 6-15.

SACKS, Kenneth S. Understanding Emerson: ‘The American Scholar’ and his struggle for self-reliance. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003.

SHULTIS, Christopher. Silencing the Sounded Self: John Cage and the American Experimental Tradition. 2nd ed. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2013.

SMITH. Stuart Saunders. A River, Rose. Baltimore: Smith Publications, 2005.

–––. “Against Definition.” Perspectives of New Music 32, no. 1 (Winter 1994): 214-218.

–––. As if Time Would Heal by its Passing. Baltimore: Smith Publications, 1991.

–––.“Composing Thoughts.” In The Modern Percussion Revolution: Journeys of the Progressive Artist, edited by Kevin Lewis and Gustavo Aguilar, 224-283. New York: Routledge, 2014.

–––.“Geography of Time: The Links Series of Vibraphone Essays (1974-1994).” Percussive Notes 32, no. 1, (April 2005): 58-63.

–––. Here and There. Baltimore: Smith Publications, 1972.

–––. “Interview with Stuart Saunders Smith.” By Jude Traxler. Ex Tempore 14, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2008). http://www.ex-tempore.org/traxler.htm.

–––. Notebook . Baltimore: Smith Publications, 1997.

–––. “To Suffer Music,” Perspectives of New Music 34, no. 1 (Winter 1996): 106-114.

THOREAU, Henry D. Walden. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

WELSH, John P. The Music of Stuart Saunders Smith. New York: Excelsior, 1995.

–––. “Stuart Smith’s ‘Links’ Series,” Percussive Notes Research Edition 21, no. 3, (March 1983): 75–89.

Publicado
30-05-2019
Como Citar
Duarte Lacerda, J. A. (2019). The poetry of being Present! An analysis of Transcendental thought in the work of Stuart Saunders Smith. Revista Música Hodie, 19. https://doi.org/10.5216/mh.v19.52703
Seção
Artigos