In his essay “The Language of Flowers,” Georges Bataille discusses the twoness of things. Like the mouth, which both speaks and spits, all things have a rational, idealized use and a base one. For Bataille, nothing captures this tension between high and low like flowers, whose seductive upper regions mask a “fantastic vision of roots swarming under the surface of the soil, nauseating and naked like vermin.” In Wire & Wool, I explore this twoness in the cello. Mixing techniques that exploit the resonant capacities of the instrument with others that intentionally choke them, I treat the cello both as an elevated, aestheticized object and as a basic amalgam of wood, hair, and glue. Through electronic and acoustic means, I amplify the abrasion that occurs as hair rubs wire; as tuning pegs tighten and pull against the wood. While used to beautify the instrumental tone, these adjustments fatigue the bridge, fray the bow hair, and accelerate the material body's natural decay. Throughout the piece, I foreground the scars left on the manipulated instrument by the creative act.
Premiered by Florent Maigrot at IRCAM’s Espace de Projection on March 28th, 2009, Wire & Wool was the culmination of my first year of study at Paris’s Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique.