How to Get Elsewhere
by Samuel Andreyev


The lyrics for Songs of Elsewhere do not tell the whole story of the songs.

The following is an attempt at illuminating the process of creation of these songs and also their expressive aims.

If this short text proves unhelpful, bear in mind the following: while certain contemporary composers sometimes claim that their work is coldly rational, my work is coldly irrational.


Ladle Days
The basis for this song is wordplay, especially anagrams. Lyrically it describes an abstraction of activity, of things taking place but what things and where is of course quite impossible to discern. The one thing that's clear is that this activity defines a unique historical moment; that when one looks back, it will be in fondness for one's Ladle days.

Lame Drops In
The text of Lame Drops In has no narrative, linear aspect but instead moves through space, as though describing a sculpture, a fixed object with many vantage points.

What's at Stake?

In this piece the theme of dining out is quite obviously invoked, and permeates every aspect of the lyric. The idea was a meeting of two vital activities: eating and sleeping. At one point, advertisements for two dream restaurants are intoned by the speaker.

Valvatex
This piece was based on a rare occurrence of a nightmare which I had in the early months of 2001. It ended, frighteningly, with the strange exclamation that gave me the title. Using the musical code invented for Invisible Song (see below), I 'translated' the word Valvatex into a musical motif which is heard forwards, backwards, upside-down, and backwards and upside-down. This appears throughout the piece, in several transpositions.

Excelsior!
The melody and words are taken verbatim from a dream. In it, a well-known cartoon character was sitting quite dejectedly on the front steps of his house, intoning this peculiar song with his head in his hands. The clash between the near-suicidal torpor of the melody and the naive hopefulness of the words was what most interested me. In order to compound the depressing effect of the music, I quoted, at the beginning and end of the piece, a sad tune I once heard someone whistling on the subway. Luckily having had manuscript paper on hand, I copied the melody down as I heard it and later
scored it for clarinet in this piece.

Life Story
The words track the object of the story from youth, through adolescence, adulthood and on to old age. It is meant to convey a reflective summing-up of the accomplishments and failures of this individual.

Phantom Bays

The words of this song seek to accentuate the spectral qualities of water at its most frightening; namely, oceans and lakes as seen by night.

Pathrow's Thirty-Six
This describes the birthday of Pathrow, a ghost, who is turning thirty-six.
In place of the typical 'happy birthday' banner, a banner bearing the word
'everybody' is set aflame in celebration of the occasion. Pathrow is
presented with an unsettling assortment of gifts, including gloves (plain
ones, apparently). Party games are played as well.

Song of Night
This song alternates between a very free, fantasy-like 'A' section and a strictly controlled, constraint-based 'B' section. In the ?B? section, the lyrics are derived entirely from the letters found in the title. The line in the middle given by the speaker, 'ignoring the dovex milk law, he did what he wanted' refers to the mysterious letters (which can be arranged into the phrase dovex milk law) found in the painting He Did What he Wanted by Yves Tanguy. View the painting here

Oneiric Synonym
This is based on a dream. The synonym in question is that of a six-three chord (a C major triad played, on the glass harmonica, in first-inversion) to the activity described in the lyric.

So Pins Removed
An attempt at a state of extreme sensitivity, with every note and every word resonating almost in isolation from its brothers and sisters.


Song of Crime
Depravity and contempt for the law, presented in numerous unvarnished ways. The villain is of course the Grim Codger, our friend from Ladle Days (whose recondite appelation, incidentally, is a near-anagram of the renowned sleeptalker, Dion McGregor). The events are described by the singer, while the speaker plays the G.C. himself.

Invisible Song
This song really is invisible. I wanted to find a way of incorporating a text into a piece of music without it actually being sung. The best way I could think of doing this was to create, by chance, a code, whereby the letters of the alphabet correspond to 26 different pitches between middle C and the D two octaves above it. The text comes from a dream.

International Chimney and the Matyiko Boys
The genesis of this piece was the title phrase, which I heard while viewing a television program called Frontiers of Construction in January of 2001. The Matyiko Boys are employees of International Chimney, the company hired to engineer the relocation of the famous striped Cape Hatteras lighthouse. The lyric takes this event as its starting point, but also alludes to the dangers of verticality, and height as a detriment to permanance, but also to the glories of transcending the forces of gravity that keep us all firmly planted on the soil.

 

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