Table

to be played on contrabass, alone
Spring 2021
ca. 8 minutes

Program Note

This body with this table is a different body than it would be without it.

Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology

I wrote this piece as a way to work through a few things: the challenging light-and-fluffy bowing sound, an imaginary sound world somewhere between Martin Arnold’s Aberrare (Casting) as played by Quatuor Bozzini and Hésperion XX’s recordings of Purcell fantasias, and the relation between my composing and performing practices. When I settled on the name “Table,” I was first thinking about how I might lay out a problem on a table like a meal, slowly working through the various aspects. A table is something which supports your ideas, work, food, games, and conversations, and lets you engage yourself with them.

After reading some of Sara Ahmed’s writing on tables (on the recommendation of a close friend), I realized that the table of the piece is not so much a constellation of ideal sound-producing actions, but rather a practice of continually trying to bring about a particular world through experiences oriented around sound, objects, and actions. This is a practice which, as Ahmed points out, is shaped by various social histories and their own orientations, and one which continually shapes—and is shaped by—my body. A table is shaped for certain purposes and also shapes the purposes for which it is used.

So what is this piece? It’s not something I ever meant to play for other people. I only wanted to work away at it for myself, to live in its continually mutating world of movements, vibrations, and touch, and see what it shows me.