Oil Stained America
The composition Oil Stained America, conceived from a photograph of an oil stain, symbolically shines a light on the political corruption the United States of America has been immersed in for decades. Large oil corporations have interwoven their money into the political system by funding congress members, a successful intention to influence legislation against environmental policies. In an act to protect oil corporations from proposed environmental legislation and to make sure financial assistance continues to flow into their pockets, congress members depreciate and all together deny the truth of global warming. Little action can be taken to restrict the production and use of petroleum because of this mutual relationship between oil companies and corrupt politicians. Our nation currently possesses the technological power to shift to a renewable environmental friendly resource and the economical benefits (i.e. influx of jobs, independency from foreign countries, and stimulated economy) that would ensue are not arguable. Yet, global warming continues to devastate our environment at an alarming rate of speed while oil corporations grow wealthier and politicians retain their seats with massive campaign funding.
Musically, Oil Stained America explores the link between our five human senses, specifically visual to aural. Of the similarities between the two senses, visual and aural textures are possibly the most uniform and interesting. Using the photograph of the oil stain as a visual, I began to explore the textures within the photo and even used computer programs to manipulate the photograph as a way to immerse deeper within the textures. Once having analyzed the textures within the photograph, I constructed a sound world that emulated the textures of the photograph. To complicate matters heavily, Oil Stained America is for unspecified ensemble. This led me to abandon standard music notation and instead craft a graphic notation that emulated these visual textures to all performers. Graphic notation is often quite vague due to its construction and when this is the case, the intention of sound can be lost in communication to the performer. To prevent my sound world from being jeopardized, I spent most of my time perfecting the clarity of my graphics. The compositional process of creating these textural sound worlds is similar to ice sculpting with an axe. After rehearsing this composition with different ensembles I noticed the textural result of all the ensembles were quite similar but because of the different instrumentations, unique timbres created new colors within the textural sound world. This realization was freeing to me and I decided I wanted audience members to experience these timbral changes so I altered the piece. During the performance, players rotate parts among each other, creating a timbral journey in a textural sound world. This addition to the composition allows the audience to be immersed in an experimental sound world while still emulating the textures of the photograph.