WORDS: music by David Smooke

by | Aug 12, 2015 | Press and Reviews

BabyBigger

The first couple pages of the story

Composer David Smooke has written a musical monodrama (Wikipedia’d it) based on a story from WORDS by Andy Devine by Michael Kimball. It will be performed in Baltimore on September 8, as a collaboration with Margaret Rorison. The piece will feature vocalists and woodwinds.

From the Facebook invitation:

The September 8 concert will feature the world premiere of Baltimore composer David Smooke’s “A Baby Bigger Grows Than Up Was,” an hour-long monodrama on a text by Baltimore writer Michael Kimball (from the book “Words” published under the name Andy Devine), with visuals by Baltimore filmmaker Margaret Rorison. In this alphabetized tale, the relative stress created by repeating individual words as many as 443 times allows us to perceive elements of an underlying narrative structure while the repetition of words forces us to perceive them as sonic events. Within this unusual organization, we find intimations of more traditional stories that might possibly provide expressive foundations for our listening experience. What at first appears to be an abstract series of words eventually reveals itself as a beautiful, emotionally charged story. The narrator gradually develops a sense of self, growing up with a doting mother and a nearly absent father.

I can’t imagine a better description of what the book does, or a better medium to capture this effect.

Years ago, when Words was released, “Andy Devine” went on tour to dozens of cities across the country by having other people perform as if they were Andy Devine himself. I got to see Smooke perform as Devine in Baltimore, and his presentation was skillful and musical … and funny. I’m excited to see the final project, years in the making, in concert.