For a piece with such a strong electronic component, It Goes Without Saying is surprisingly organic. While the electronics include chillier, metallic noises””samples ranging from a kitchen whisk to a unique set of tiny bells””most prominent are the warm, woody sounds of a harmonium and of clicking clarinet-keys, sounds that share a certain sonic DNA with the live components of the performance.
The piece also develops according to organic principles. Over the initial drone of the harmonium, the rhythm track and the clarinets build the material of the piece up from small, replicating cells into a lively and elaborate texture. The minutely wrought surface is stretched over the simplest possible formal contour, the drone undergirding the piece progressing from C to F and back again. When the slowly building dissonance of the underlying harmonium chord finally reaches its tipping point, the resolution corresponds to a dramatic timbral shock: a shocking burst of industrial noise, dominating rather than complementing its acoustic surroundings. Finally, the machine noises die away and the harmonies return home, the texture warms once again””now leavened by the gentle sound of the celesta. ““ Program Notes Â© 2007 Daniel Johnson
The clarinet should be placed in the center of the stage. If amplification is used (which is not necessary but can help solve certain balance issues), it is recommended that there be one microphone traditionally placed, and another close to the side of the instrument, gently amplifying the natural sound of the keys clicking.
It Goes Without Saying is recorded on Bedroom Community Hvalur 001 (Nico Muhly Speaks Volumes).
Preview the score