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the mouth for piano

alan shockley [2018]


Written for #45miniatures and pianist Nicholas Phillips. I began the mouth by making a loose transcription of the rhythms of a part of crazed speech that the president gave at a rally in Montana (5 July 2018) in which he compared himself to Elton John, and inexplicably talked about the organ. Beneath the grand staff appears the text of the speech, (though minus a comparison of the president’s space with that needed for hosting various sporting events). This text should not be spoken aloud*, but is given to the pianist to help with interpretation. Dynamics with a “+” sign are ½ dynamic higher than the same indication without the plus, so p+ is half way between piano and mezzo piano. The first two notes, G sharp 5 and D 3, should be depressed silently, caught with the sostenuto pedal, and held throughout the piece. The D will ring prominently through much of the piece, while the G sharp will often be obscured. All clusters are chromatic clusters and the black rectangles used to notate these indicate the approximate placement of each cluster. Clusters given in the same place on the staff need not be played with exactly the same constituent pitches. All clusters until the last few measures should be played with the palms, and the last few measures should be played with both forearms. There are only two other sonorities in the piece, the single D4 sounded at the opening of the piece, and the second inversion G major triads of measure 9. The final double forearm cluster should be held with both the keys and the damper pedal. Over this sonority, the pianist speaks one bit of text from the Montana speech, and then allows the piano’s sound to die away to nothing. *Alternate performance possibility: In addition to speaking the final statement over the last cluster, the

pianist may (angrily) deliver the text for all notes from m. 17 to the end. This could be spoken loudly while still allowing the clusters mostly to cover the voice, perhaps with the voice crescendoing and becoming more audible for the last few words. If the pianist opts to speak this additional text, then the (in this case repeated) line of text delivered over the receding final cluster should be spoken bitterly and with great distaste.

“I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. (And we beat) and I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ! Elton has an organ. [And lots of other people helping.] No we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look, I only need this space. [They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records.] But really we do it without, like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical: the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain.”


the mouth alan shockley

q = c.76; take liberties as needed

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(with empty swagger)

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No, we've bro - ken

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have bro - ken

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or an or - gan.

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a lot

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of re - cords. We've bro - ken

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re - cords

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I don't have a mu - si - cal in - stru-ment.

No or - gan!

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El - ton John

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Sweetly

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more

(and we beat) and I, by the way ,

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seems to have a lot of re - cords

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Depress silently, catch with sostenuto and hold throughout. 4

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(Apropos of nothing)

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44 –– ––

(back to gritty reality again)

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El - ton has

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an or - gan.

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vir - tu - al - ly ev' - ry re - cord

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the mouth

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j 5 – & 8 ––– >

heavily

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out,

like,

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brain

& 44

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brain.

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(hold these two notes a little too long)

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j ––– ––– – – > > you know, 3

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––– – > look,

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the mu - si - cal in - stru - ments.

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at - tached

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But

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to the mouth. Right?

The brain,

––– 58 ––––– –– 85

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‰. real - ly

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This is the on - ly mu - si - cal:

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43

5:4

on - ly need this space.

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we do it with -

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the mouth. And hope - ful - ly

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more im - por - tant than the mouth, is the

Ó.

Ó.

Speak as cluster fades: "the brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain."

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Profile for Nicholas Phillips

"The Mouth" - Alan Shockley  

Part of the #45miniatures project, commissioned by Nicholas Phillips.

"The Mouth" - Alan Shockley  

Part of the #45miniatures project, commissioned by Nicholas Phillips.

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