All Our Broken Instruments (2015) for percussion and electronics

Composed in the summer of 2015 for Andrew Spencer, All Our Broken Instruments is a musical adaptation of the Robert Fanning poem “May Our Young Find Music in All Our Broken Instruments.” The percussion soloist speaks the poem’s text while playing a mixed batch of instruments and triggering the electroacoustic sounds.

 

Download the score: All Our Broken Instruments

May Our Young Find Music in All Our Broken Instruments – Robert Fanning

In the back of a drafty barn, dust drifts through shafts of light that split
wall slats. Everywhere, junked stuff:
bent coils of a warped box spring, a tossed rake, a rusted sewing machine,
face of a grandfather clock
with no hands. Marooned among
these heaped shadows, a baby
grand piano sits. Left open
to the air, its fallboard hoisted
and stuck, it leans like a boat
once dashed on ice or shallows,
as if it sailed here carried on
the storm of its last song.
Now its new resident soloist’s
strung her own resonant web,
her silk bridge strewn
across dampers and soundboard strings
she crosses nightly
to devour all her divers.
Under felt hammers and cleft rails, she’s laid dozens of pearly egg sacs, airy
clusters of opaque globes
clumped like dormant notes.
Soon they’ll burst free, her progeny,
from the trap work and escapements,
to fury and scamper along the buckled keys rehearsing scales and ascensions—
their catchy tunes too slight to register
yet played for far years: these melodies no-one now here will hear.