- "We Lived in the Gaps between the Stories"Alannah Marie Halay
"We lived in the gaps between the stories" is a quote from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and acts as a source of inspiration for this composition. The quote in context is: "We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories." This piece, composed in 2016, focuses on the "gaps between" traditional accordion sounds, in other words, the sounds between performance techniques and pitches such as noise sounds, breath sounds, glissandi, and so on. It also values the "gaps between" the notation (the blank spaces) as much as the notation itself: the unpredictable instability of sounds during these moments should be relished. The "stories" are represented by the visible symbols of the notation and normative instrumental techniques, both of which are required to highlight a "between" in the first place.
Written for accordion (with and/or without amplification as desired)
Notation: The blank spaces are just as important as the notes.
The score represents a time-independent "space" where the performer's usual required perception of real time, within a typical score, is eliminated. It consists of a three-dimensional vector space that is segmented into three axes: pitch, timbre, and dynamics.
Pitch axis: The vertical pitch axis is denoted by the transition bass → (alto) → treble. These are rough indications of what clef to apply to the notes within the 3D vector space. Likewise, they provide a rough indication of the hands to perform [End Page 22] with. The performer does not have to apply the alto clef if she does not wish to, and notes read on the alto clef can be performed by any hand.
Timbre axis: The horizontal timbre axis is denoted by the transition definite pitch → unstable → air sounds. These are rough indications of what instrumental techniques and timbral detail to apply to the notes within the 3D vector space.
Definite pitch denotes stable, clear pitches. These pitches require playing the accordion in the most normative conventional/traditional way. Employment of such technique depends on the performer's interpretation of the score at any one moment. This technique does not have to be employed within a performance, although it can be if the performer wishes.
Unstable denotes a mixture of definite pitch and air sounds and should be volatile (or unstable) in nature. Examples of applicable techniques include detuning and/or any form of pitched glissando technique; changing button pressure while sounding a pitch; employing harmonics; using a mixture of registers simultaneously; employing extremely short clusters; employing the highest register (where relevant). Employment of any of these techniques depends on the performer's interpretation of the score at any one moment. Not all techniques have to be employed within one performance, although they can be if the performer wishes.
Air sounds denotes sounds dominated by air, which can be pitched and nonpitched. This also denotes percussive sounds that are the extreme opposite of definite pitch (as the transition definite pitch → unstable → air sounds" implies). Examples of applicable techniques include hitting or rubbing the instrument in any way (including employing button and switch noises); bellows shake and/or triple ricochet without definite "normal" sound; any form of percussive glissando technique (e.g., on the buttons). Employment of any of these techniques depends on the performer's interpretation of the score at any one moment. Not all techniques have to be employed within one performance, although they can be if the performer wishes.
Dynamics axis: The dynamics axis is denoted by the transition fff → ppp. It provides a rough indication of what dynamics to apply to the notes within the 3D vector space. This dynamic gradient also matches the size of the notes: as the notes get smaller and appear to be situated in the distance, so too do the dynamics get quieter.
Time: There is no axis denoting time. Temporally, the score can be interpreted in any way the performer chooses. Temporal "durations" are treated as relative positions in "space" (they should...