For String Quartet (2022)
muzak tells the story of a musical force that yearns for expressive freedom but, bound my a sense of self-preservation, acquiesces to the powers that be and thus self-relegates to a position of politeness and respectability. Like the shopping music of yore, I designed muzak to embody an inoffensive, wall-paper aesthetic—to some degree. I was inspired to write this piece by a dilemma in which I often find myself (though, I’ll admit, I wasn’t fully aware of said inspiration until a bit after I finished writing muzak). I rarely feel safe enough to be fully vulnerable and expressive with people. So, I hide my emotions behind a veneer of respectability and politeness. Many emotions I have suffer this fate, but I feel that because of the way I look and my physical stature, anger is the one that suffers most. I’ve learned time and time again, throughout my life, that anger, when channeled through me, is threatening. muzak, in turn, takes anger as its primary protagonist, held prisoner just beyond the yawning by the false expectations of social order. There are moments in muzak in which the facade of inoffensive respectability cracks and the anger begins to break through. When this struggle reaches a boiling point, it’s hard to say whether the anger is ever fully free, the emotion full realized, but either way, the nature of the music from this point forward is different. Politeness no longer feels inoffensive but instead tragic, tinged with aggression and resignation.
Performed and recorded by the JACK Quartet in The Auditorium at The New School May 4th, 2022