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Timed Compositions Encouraging Performance Freedom

by Terrible At Small Talk

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Timed Compositions Encouraging Performance Freedom is a collection of four works that rely on nebulous influence for music creation, defining types of instruments and samples (e.g., stringed, percussion, field recordings, voice), providing playing instructions on timed intervals, and establishing a specific duration of individual performances and the complete composition. The artists define the key, notes and chords, and approach to the overall performance.

“Step Out Of Your Room”
This composition requires five instruments and sounds, provides playing instructions on ten-second timed intervals, and establishes the intensity of individual performances.

The key used for this performance: G# minor
The instruments and sounds used for this performance:
• Cello
• Guzheng
• Percussion (10-inch gong, triangles, and random metal objects)
• Synth: Septavox
• Voice

“Lowest Terms Equivalent”
Using only two notes, fourteen instruments play in overlapping intervals of three, seven, and 21 seconds. The artist has the freedom to play the notes with a variety of sustain, speed, and intensity.

The notes used for this performance: C# and E
The instruments used for this performance:
• Two bass guitars
• Two electric guitars
• Two acoustic guitars
• Two pianos
• Two cellos
• Two violas
• Two mandolins

“Five Elements”
This composition requires three instruments, four field-recording samples, one pitched-percussion instrument, and three voice approaches. For each of these components, the artist creates five unique patterns, labeled one-through-five, lasting four seconds at 60 BPM. The composition defines when each unique pattern should be played, distributed over four second intervals. Two instruments have brief interludes for solos; one voice has three separate moments for solo performances.

The key for this performance: D minor
The instruments and sounds used for this performance:
• One banjo
• One guzheng
• One piano
• One xylophone
• Four field recordings of nature
• Three voice approaches – the “voice solos” are a reading of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, “Entrance.”

“Not; Not Separate”
Composed for 36 performers, this timed composition defines six separate playing instructions for six instruments on random, chaotically timed intervals. The instruction is broad, only defining the use of single repeated notes, chords, and muted strings, played with speeds and intensity determined by the performer.

The key used for this performance: C minor
Instruments used for this performance:
• Six cellos
• Six violas
• Six electric guitars
• Six bass guitars
• Six banjos
• Six guzhengs

I hope you enjoy these performances.

Contact me if you have interest in recording or performing these compositions.



released March 26, 2021


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Terrible At Small Talk Washington, D.C.

Terrible At Small Talk is the most recent moniker evolved from Fertanish. The new name reflects an evolution to free experimental music, absent of vocals and blessed with a disintegration of common musical structure.

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