Author Archives: David Smooke

Refuge

If the act of creation can provide solace even in the face of a tragedy as immense as this one, then it truly is a powerful undertaking, one to be treasured, as essential as any other thing that provides sustenance.

Big Paper

I carry the tools of my trade in a very light plastic portfolio case, ready to emerge at a moment’s notice. If you look inside this envelope, you’ll find a .9mm mechanical pencil, an equally large eraser, a15-inch straight edge with cork backing (so it doesn’t smear the graphite markings), and 11×17 staff paper. Lots and lots of large staff paper.

Instruments for Playing Water

Although in our discussions, Katherine and I had agreed that she would leave the performance implements visible in the gallery as part of the overall whole, I was delightfully surprised to find them officially displayed, complete with a tag identifying them as “Instruments for Playing Water.” Yes, that’s exactly what they are.

Truth, Skepticism, and Art

I would argue that objective truth is not only distinguishable, but that it should be valued and treasured. As citizens, we should strive towards the sort of skepticism that allows us to remain impartial as we determine the authenticity of the evidence laid out before us. But as artists, we can embrace the impossibility of true surety.

More Tips on Learning

Two years ago at this time, I offered some guidelines for composers about to embark on their first graduate degrees. This year I would like to add some further guidelines for students about to commence a new year of learning.

Narrative Drive

As soon as I began to think about form beyond the traditional models, I found a teeming mass of great art created outside of these molds. Eventually, I realized that aberrant structures are truly normative, that the standard forms exist mainly as theoretical constructs and are rarely evinced in interesting and successful works of art.

Spectacles

As I write this, the Olympic closing ceremonies are concluding. I adore these sorts of grand spectacles. Each Olympic host nation tries to outdo the previous presentations in a sort of creative arms race that has reached recent culminating points in the precision of the Beijing games and in the whimsy of this London edition.

Weird Ears

Some students operate on a different level from the others, hearing music in unique ways. I believe that it’s important for them to fully grasp the typical theories, if only so that they may understand the enemy against which they someday will rebel.

Infecting Materials

I attempt to channel the spirit of Duchamp in order to accept even those accidents that seem disastrous at first blush as possible windows opening towards new opportunities.

Performing As Art

My current engagement with performing began as a way of overcoming barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration. By responding to artistic impetuses with sounds that I was able to physically produce in the moment, I was able to share in the genesis of installations and events.