About the Grant

$15,000 to support Spellbeamed (MAP 2011), a new work by composer Zeena Parkins, commissioned by the Ne(x)tworks Ensemble, and developed in collaboration with visual artist Cynthia Madansky and programmer Michael Carter.

About the Project

Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s Archives, Spellbeamed will take advantage of the the nine-member group’s varied skills to address issues of perception, process, and translation through two different modes of composition: a fully notated, composed score for string quartet and a graphic-motion score for improvisers. In this piece, a variety of pictures, objects, and texts will serve as notation. The piece activates a web of information such as fragments, commentaries, and cross-references. The new work moves forward on two planes that begin as separate entities, alternating one after the other and eventually overlapping as simultaneous events while the piece unfolds.

“Excerpts, transpositions, cuttings-out, montaging, sticking, cataloguing and sorting appear to be true activities of an author.” –Walter Benjamin’s Archives

Couldn’t these also be the activities of a composer collecting materials for a musical-score-like document designed for improvisers? Spellbeamed proposes a collision between word, image, and traditional notation. In the process of developing the piece, we will collect our own artifacts—building a personal archive particular to the members of the Ne(x)tworks ensemble. With the most minimal of extra-visual information, Cynthia will create graphic links and overlays to help the audience read these pictures and texts as musical scores.


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