So Many Little Dyings (1994)
Since college I have been a big fan of the San Francisco poet Kenneth Patchen, one of the most compassionate, lively, human voices in modern poetry. (I think of him as the John Cage of poetry, only far more emotional.) In July of 1994 my mother-in-law died, and in August death was on my mind. I had always loved Patchen's line, "There are so many little dyings that it doesn't matter which of them is death." I sampled his voice reading it from one of his Folkways recordings, deciphered the inadvertent pitches and rhythms of his speech, and based this work for keyboard sampler on the phrase. At first the sentence is imitated by sampled toy piano in a microtonal scale, but gradually the toy piano is replaced, phrase by phrase, with Patchen's warm voice.
March 15, 2002 at Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina.
March 12 and 13, Santa Fe New Music, Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, NM.
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