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Work Title
Sixty-Two Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham
Alt. Title
62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham
Composed in 1971.
Ensemble Type
For amplified voice.
"Mesostic means row down the middle: in this case the name Merce Cunningham. In a mesostic a given letter of the string (in this case, a name) does not occur between itself and its preceding letter. No attempt should be made to clarify this structure in a performance. A performance will include at least five separate mesostics (but may present all of them, though the complete work should be a full program lasting from one and a half to three hours). According to the number of mesostics performed and according to the total time-length determined, space each in silence (e.g. in the case of the decision to perform all of them in a three hour period, allotting approximately three minutes to each mesostic plus its succeeding silence [exception: the last one]; say, one takes twenty seconds to perform one of the mesostics, then follow it up with two minutes and forty seconds of silence; let a single mesostic plus its succeeding silence equal at least one and one-half minutes; the shortest performance will therefore be something less than seven and one-half minutes). The texts are I Ching-determined syllables and word mixes from 'Changes: Notes on Choreography' by Merce Cunningham along with fragments taken from thirty-two other books chosen by him from his library. They have been instant-letterset using a gamut of about seven hundred and thirty different type faces or sizes. These type face and size differences may be used to suggest an improvised vocal line having any changes of intensity, quality, style, etc., not following any conventional rule. The words and syllables are not to be made clear: rather, attention is to be to given each letter (though not separating it from the letter that follows; a given letter may be vocalized in many ways; do not search to establish any pronunciation rule). Tempo is free, though (just as each mesostic has been letterset as a single visual event -- letters touching both horizontally and vertically and dots of i's when necessary superimposed on letters above) each mesostic when performed should hold together: like a single cry, shout, or vocal event, not including in it longer silences than those necessary for breath (exception: punctuation marks at ends of lines), breathing, if necessary, taking place at the end of a work or syllable. "Speaking without syntax, we notice that cadence, Dublienese or ministerial, takes over. (Looking out the rear-window.) Therefore we tried whispering. Encouraged we began to chant. (The singer was sick.) .... To raise language's temperature we not only remove syntax: we give each letter undivided attention setting it in unique face and size; 'to read' becomes the verb 'to sing'." The texts are also given in typescript to facilitate study."
Peters Edition EP 6807