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David Fennessy: Crying on the inside (Laughing on the outside)

  • for bass flute (amplified), percussion and elecronics
  • Duration: 12’
  • Composer: David Fennessy

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Work introduction

Introvert and extrovert.
Crying and laughing.

A comedian approaches the microphone. When he tries to speak, the sound feeds back – wildly. A barrier to communication.

This was the starting point for Crying on the inside (Laughing on the outside). It seemed to me that the cliché of the comedian’s split personality – hiding but with a need to be exposed; the outward, the inward; extrovert, introvert – could be present in any type of performer.

I became interested in the notion that a feedback loop, at first an offensive noise, could be slowly mastered and transformed by the performer into a tool for expression. The flute player’s gestures - the position of his body, even the shape of his mouth – all affect the pitch and intensity of the feedback.

As for the percussionist – perhaps it is the equal and opposite side of this split personality. The inside of the piano (in this case, played by a percussionist) becomes a resonating chamber for the flutist’s thoughts and actions. But somehow at the same time it is the audience – reacting. We hear laughs but are they with the performer or at the performer?

Anyway, by the end it all explodes in a cacophony of ‘comedic’ percussion clichés. Crash, bang, wallop – pure slapstick.

This piece was composed during my time at the International Ensemble Modern Academy in Frankfurt, Germany. It was premiered by Daniel Agi (bass flute), Asuka Hatenaka (percussion) and Michael Nitschke (electronics) on March 6th 2007 at the Haus der Deutschen Ensemble Akademie, Frankfurt.

David Fennessy

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