KENOCHORIC (brass quintet)
Available for purchase in June 2024. In a world where many titles, adjectives, and professions are heavily, aggressively gendered, it’s often expected that we accept the terms others deem most suitable for us. For some, these fit perfectly, but the words the rest of the world uses to describe us can be an immense pressure no matter how accurate they might be. At a time where self-determination in all its forms is increasingly under threat, it’s more important than ever that we make the effort to dive deep within ourselves and figure out who we want to be—even if the traits and associations that ring true don’t fit neatly into any of the boxes we’re offered. KENOCHORIC is (as of 2023) my most experimental brass work to date, combining a modular approach to extended techniques with artistic leaps I’ve longed to take. Perusal score available in spring 2024.
Out of stock
How would you describe yourself without using terms like “masculine” and “feminine?”
In a world where many titles, adjectives, and professions are heavily, aggressively gendered, it’s often expected that we accept the terms others deem most suitable for us. For some, these fit perfectly, but the words the rest of the world uses to describe us can be an immense pressure no matter how accurate they might be. At a time where self-determination in all its forms is increasingly under threat, it’s more important than ever that we make the effort to dive deep within ourselves and figure out who we want to be—even if the traits and associations that ring true don’t fit neatly into any of the boxes we’re offered.
My own identity journey has involved interrogating those terms for years. The words I use to talk about my gender, orientation, and neurotype have grown (and changed!) the more I’ve learned; when I first said “I think I’m probably genderfluid” to my college roommate in 2016 or so, that was the only terminology I had at my fingertips that could begin to poke at something more correct. Many of the terms I use today (with trusted loved ones, when asked respectfully) weren’t even coined until I was in grad school! Seeking out these terms and looking for that accuracy alongside so many other trans and genderqueer people has been a singularly special part of my life. When we can’t find the words, we write new ones down. We create ourselves in our own image.
“Kenochoric” is one such term. Coined in November 2020 on Tumblr, it is defined as “an umbrella term for gender identity that’s centered around, among other things, the unknown, eerieness, the uncanny valley, obscurity, nostalgia, emptiness or vastness, liminal spaces, nonhumanity, and things that can evoke any or all of those things. It’s an identity of its own, but it can also describe any identity with characteristics that fit its ‘vibe.'” (For more detail, visit kenochoric.carrd.co.) Since coming out, I’ve struggled against pressure to define myself in ways that are decidedly either feminine or masculine when every fiber of my being says “those aren’t useful frameworks;” finding “kenochoric” and many of the other terms nestled under its umbrella has allowed me to earnestly begin dreaming up an affirmed future that rings as true for me as so many of my friends’ do for them.
Each time this piece is presented, I invite performers and audiences alike to really examine for themselves what elements of their gender(s)—or lack thereof—feel affirming, representative, even emblematic for each individual. How do we conceptualize ourselves beyond “feminine” and “masculine”? Is your gender petrichor and a brand-new book? Is it the eerie calm of an impending dust storm? Is it the sound of crickets just before sunrise? Is it nothing where there should be something, or nothing that’s complete on its own? No matter what framings you explore, remember these metaphors are no more gratuitous or overshare-y than many of the ways we discuss gender in our cisnormative society. (Taylor Swift gives us an excellent example in her seminal hit “You Belong With Me”: “She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts/She’s cheer captain, and/I’m on the bleachers…”!)
Because I take my position as a potential steward across the gender universe seriously, it is important that I note that neither performers nor audiences should be obligated to share these musings. I encourage you to invite sharing for those who are interested, but particularly in the anti-trans era we currently face, no one should be obligated, and it’s important that performers and presenters of this work proactively take steps to avoid any participants being pressured to out themselves.
However you navigate your experiences with KENOCHORIC the piece, I look forward to seeing where it takes you. And I hope, no matter what you find awaiting you or how you get to it, that you come out the other end seeing the world just a little more brilliantly—even if you’re staring into the dark and wondering if it’s staring back.
Notes about the movement titles:
Each movement of KENOCHORIC is named after an identity under the kenochoric umbrella. I have included some basic definitions below, but for a more in-depth picture (where available), I highly recommend taking them to your favorite search engine—and remember, in this case, Tumblr is a reputable source.
i. backroomic: Coined in July 2019 by Beyond-MOGAI-Pride-Flags and an anonymous contributor on Tumblr, this identity “refers to a gender that has a fuzzy feeling of nostalgia, but a hint of something more otherworldly inside. It may also be an aesthetigender . . . related to the backrooms itself.” I treat this opening movement like a descent, an accidental clipping out-of-bounds, or a surprise discovery of some empty space where things aren’t quite what they seem. (More on “backroomic” at https://mogai.miraheze.org/wiki/Backroomic)
ii. memoromen: Coined in April 2022 (as far as I can tell) by kenogai on Tumblr, this term riffs on “omen,” which is one of the kenochoric equivalents of “man” or “woman.” It is defined as “a kenochoric gender for someone whose memories are often foggy, distorted, and sometimes missing!” Brain fog is something that massively impacts my life—to the point that I enjoy several gender signifiers that invoke it in some way—and as this movement feels to me like a slowly-shifting swirly concoction with no clear leader, I found it fitting. (See the flag and coining post for “memoromen” at https://www.tumblr.com/kenogai/681259952177840128/memoromen)
iii. voidrian: One of the better-documented identities I’ve drawn from here, “voidrian” was coined by Tumblr user noenfluid (now kenochoric-moved) on March 1, 2021. It is an identity within the galactian alignment system, which is a large structure for nonbinary, genderless, genderqueer, and gender-expansive people to describe their alignments without using “masculine” or “feminine.” Per the coining post, “the name and symbol are based around a black hole, as it felt very fitting for kenochoric!” Its flag is both ridiculously pretty and very specific about what it represents, and I highly recommend paying its post a visit. (See the flag and learn more about “voidrian” at https://kenochoric-moved.tumblr.com/post/644498912404766720)
iv. imvasic: This one’s hard to find if you don’t have the direct link. Imvasic is defined in its coining post as a gender that “is deep and ill-lit, like the void. its vastness is terrifying to those who behold it, but oddly comforting to the user of this gender. it feels connected to forbidden knowledge, which it possesses a plethora of. . . . it is as black as the night, with absolutely no light or color to be found.” Because this movement is the most expansive in terms of range and invoked techniques, this felt like the perfect name for it. (Learn more about “imvasic,” pronounced ehm-vah-sick, at https://www.tumblr.com/mimikyustoybox/689626118100221952/imvasic)
v. luminox: I went back and forth on several identity terms for this ending, but ultimately I decided that if backroomic was going to take us indoors, we’d be well-served by returning outside as we finish our adventure. Luminox was coined in August 2022 and is described as “a kenolux gender related to a feeling of belonging amongst the vast emptiness of a moonless night. the stars wink at you and chitter amongst themselves in a twisting ballroom of constellations, burning cold and uncaring in the blackness of space. you feel the void aching in your chest as you gaze, the shards of stardust inlaid in your bones reaching across the distance, longing to shine again. you get the sense that you are both impossibly small, and incredibly meaningful. the space between galaxies looks back at you, and smiles.” If I’m going to leave you with any feeling after a long romp through lots of different framings both musical and ideological, that’s a pretty great one, so I stuck with it. (See more about “luminox” at https://www.tumblr.com/frightfulfangz/692300393308405760/luminox)
Regarding the title, please note that although “kenochoric” when used in a sentence as a vocab word is subject to typical capitalization rules, KENOCHORIC my brass quintet should always be spelled in all caps. As it begins to grow an online presence through recordings, press releases, programs, and other music-related things, this will help keep it at least somewhat distinct from resources relating directly to the identity.
Note: KENOCHORIC involves a wider variety of extended techniques than my other works (as of 2023). Detailed performance notes are provided in the score. When a perusal becomes available toward the end of the exclusivity period, these notes will be included in full so you and your ensemble can assess the work in depth before committing to it.
Got one I’m missing? Drop me a line!
- Spring 2024: Potsdam Brass Quintet, SUNY Potsdam, Potsdam, NY.
- Spring 2024: Illinois State University, Normal, IL.
- 10/28/2023: Whitewater Brass Quintet, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (world premiere).