Since my initial post I have been doing quite a bit of background research, trying to get closer to establishing the materials, themes, references, and form of my new work for wind ensemble, video, & electronics titled "Pedestals" or perhaps "Empty Pedestals." It is looking like the subject matter for the piece will indeed be reflections, commentary, and protest surrounding confederate monuments in the south. Ever since the tragic events in Charlottesville last summer, I have been struggling to understand the debate and I feel very strongly that I want to add to the discussion with art. My goals right now are to first and foremost call for a larger societal conversation about these monuments and figure out a way to remove, recontextualize, or augment the existing confederate monuments. It is a VERY sensitive, loaded, and emotional subject, so I endeavor to approach it with great respect and humility. I will post more about my own history and connection to these issues, but for now I want to discuss my initial thoughts on structuring the big piece and post a few links on my current reading and research.
Right now I am planning a piece around 70 minutes long, with a brief intermission in the middle. The two parts will be made up of three different kinds of movements/sections: pedestals, songs, interludes/postludes. Of course, all this could change once I begin the actual music writing process... The pedestals will deconstruct Civil War-era band music. The songs (I think) will feature a singer in abstracted versions of popular songs from the time period, including a Union song, Confederate song, African-American hymn and perhaps a final Appalachian song. The interludes and postludes will center around African American traditions in the South and Native American traditional music, focusing on tribes from the Southeast region like the Catawba and Cherokee. In addition, I might include some spoken text during or just after the postludes.
Tomorrow I will spend my first afternoon at the MIRC archive here at SC, though I have been browsing the online catalog quite a bit the last two weeks. Im still researching, but for the "pedestal" movements I like the idea of drawing on film that captures something to do with the process of creating monuments: footage of rock quarries, design, or sculpting. There are actually a number of videos featuring rock quarries and explosions as well as a few films showing Stone Mountain in GA being created and Mount Rushmore being sculpted. Here are a couple of examples:
Dynamite blasting in marble quarry--outtakes
Work on Mount Rushmore resumed--outtakes