women’s work (collective mend) (A3-A5 voice and objects)

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Run time: if performed briskly, it sits about 3′; if not, it’ll stretch to 5′. The vocalist will need to be comfortable playing a series of found objects while performing. The score uses traditional Western notation featuring several different noteheads. This score is free, always.

By the way, you don’t need to be a woman to perform this. Any good-faith (and really just non-mocking) effort is awesome. I’m nonbinary, and it still speaks to me in many of the same ways it did when I set the text. Regardless of where your personal gender journey takes you, I hope you find something in here that speaks to you.

Description

This score is FREE, always.

I’ve been writing and making music about sexual assault and rape culture for over two years, and despite my fears that it would be a lonely, angry road, the journey has brought me to new friends, collaborators, and fellow performers across the US. women’s work (collective mend) began similarly: I was asked to join the Arizona Women’s Collaborative to help craft a concert entirely by women (I was still figuring out a lot of gender stuff at the time), from the text to the music to the performance, and as we began the creative process, I was fortunate to be placed with Felicia Zamora and Emily Cottam. These fantastic women have been amazing collaborative partners, and together we’ve crafted a work that doesn’t talk so much about being hurt but instead explores how we move through life as individuals and as a collective.

Once I had Felicia’s words in hand, I realized I wanted to craft something that’s performable by a singer who doesn’t have other performers at hand, something that would facilitate a performance that is inherently theatrical as well as musical, and something that flows more like a stream of consciousness rather than a strictly-defined, confident statement—because so much of this life as a survivor or a victim or a casualty is typing something and revising it over and over and over because once you start speaking for your community of survivors and victims and casualties the world expects that you say the exact right thing the first time you pipe up. I drew inspiration from Bernstein’s MASS, particularly Fraction: Things Get Broken, not only because I was working from the standpoint of someone who might at times feel broken but because it plays with emphasis and perceived meter in a way I really enjoy.

Notes to the performer:
To perform women’s work (collective mend), you will need the following:

  • several sheets of paper—preferably bills or copies of bills, if you’re cool distressing and/or trashing them, but you might want to experiment with different textures and thicknesses of paper until you find the sound you prefer.
  • a pen
  • a fist (preferably your own, but any will do)
  • a found object that rings when struck—this could be the leg of a desk or chair, a pot/pan, a bell of some sort, or another object entirely. We’re looking for a bright resonance here.
  • a table, desk, or flat surface.
In any performance situation, try to make timbral choices that make the most sense with how you’ll be presenting the work. Further instruction as to striking objects and creating sounds are given in the score. In my head, the singer is performing while stacking bills and doing work, but feel free to create your own scenario and environment to fit your plan for the performance. (more performance notes in score)
Concept of sound:
women’s work (collective mend) should begin with a sound that’s fragile and unsure and gradually grow into something more decisive. The most frantic point of the piece should be measure 44, which should be slightly rage-y. Performers are encouraged to explore the full range of their own timbral spectrums to create a performance that sucks the audience into the singer’s traing of thought.
By the way, you don’t need to be a woman to perform this. Any good-faith (and really just non-mocking) effort is awesome. I’m nonbinary, and it still speaks to me in many of the same ways it did when I set the text. Regardless of where your personal gender journey takes you, I hope you find something in here that speaks to you.
Commissioned by the Arizona Women’s Collaborative.
Run time: if performed briskly, it sits about 3′; if not, it’ll stretch to 5′. The vocalist will need to be comfortable playing a series of found objects while performing.
Watch Emily Cottam give the world premiere:
Past performances:
  • 4/7/2019: Emily Cottam, First United Methodist Church, Tempe, AZ (world premiere)

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