"…ce dangereux supplément…" and Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers: Two musical examinations of language and translation
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This project consists of two vocal compositions, each of which situate examinations of linguistic elements in musical contexts. The first, "...ce dangereux supplément...", for solo voice with optional electronics and video, consists of three phonetic sound poems which act out a rehearsal of the Derridean supplement in an attempt to locate a broader definition of 'text-setting'. The second, Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers, for six voices, is a multi-movement setting of the Walter Benjamin essay of the same title. Rather than setting the text directly, a variety of techniques have been utilized to set Benjamin's words while also realizing the philosopher's approach to translation theory in musical structures. One aspect of this is realized in the "Wörtlich" movements, in which the literal syntactic structure of specific sentences from the original text are translated into musical structures whose complexity mirrors that of the original text's syntax. Another aspect manifests in the piece's 'nonsense' settings: one paragraph of Benjamin's essay has undergone a homophonic translation by the composer, and it is this translation (which renders the sounds of Benjamin's German into a near-homophonic English equivalent) that has been set rather than the original German or a semantic translation thereof. These techniques attempt to locate a new approach to text-setting, in which a musical setting itself operates as a form of translation.