David Smooke - Composer










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(solo piano), 10 min., 1997.
Premiered by Dana McCormick, Chicago, IL.

The seven miniatures that comprise Souvenirs present self-enclosed worlds akin to the scenes contained within the snow globes tourists buy on their journeys. These pieces are not meant to bring a story to mind nor to create pictures of specific physical objects or places. Instead, these short compositions should evoke some (possibly ephemeral) emotional response. Some create musical analogies for objects that might recall past events: a child’s song half remembered or a discarded rose from a night of dancing. Others are musical equivalents of places that might have been visited in person or in spirit, or musically capture the joy of traveling.

Each of the Souvenirs explores its own world, leading to great differences in textural, harmonic, rhythmic and melodic details between the seven separate pieces. The twang of the prepared piano in “New Car Smell” shocks the ear following the melodically percussive piano harmonics in “Ritalin Dreams.” The delicacy of “Ritalin Dreams” is in great contrast to the grandiloquence of “The Hanging Garden,” which follows the simple and ludicrous “Child’s Song – ‘Pockets.’” I hope that these musical incongruities serve to strengthen, not subvert, the impression of each individual musical moment.

Despite the great surface contrasts, the many harmonic, rhythmic and melodic motifs that reappear throughout the seven separate works allow them to be heard as a single entity. Similar voice-leading is found in the chords of “Blue Glass,” “Tango Rose” and “New Car Smell.” The phrase-delineating motive of “Western Wall”returns, slightly altered, in “The Hanging Garden.” An obstinately repeated note is found in “Western Wall,” “Child’s Song – ‘Pockets’” and “Ritalin Dreams.” Other examples of cross-references abound, allowing the attentive listener to draw connections between these Souvenirs.