Peeping Tom - from the Noble Snare Vol. 2
From the Noble Snare Drum Volume 2
Peeping Tom for solo snare drum and voice Dan Senn As an intermedia artist, composer Dan Senn has built a career upon several artistic outlets including kinetic sound sculpture and experimental and documentary film. He works in the fluxus tradition, a movement that rose to prominence in the 1960s which melds a variety of artistic media and disciplines. As an undergraduate music education major at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, Senn first trained as a French horn player and vocalist.
After studying an ancient ceramic method called "raku," he began trying to emulate this process in musical composition through software he developed. Other influences on Senn's work include his personal journals, which have been incorporated into many of his performance and instillation works. He regularly tours Europe and the U.S. as a featured artist at festivals and experimental venues. In 2014, Senn was artistin-residence at Marshall University, where he had several of his compositions performed and presented his own kinetic sound sculptures and a new film. He has also held teaching positions at the Canberra School of Music in Australia, Ball State University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Composition. Asked to compose a piece in 1986 by Stuart Saunders Smith, Senn wrote Peeping Tom for The Noble Snare - a collection of snare drum solos aimed at creating new repertoire suitable for concert performance. The semiautobiographical text of the piece comes from one of Senn's journal entries, and he had already performed it publicly using instruments he had built himself. The performer in this version is required to use wire brushes throughout, while speaking and sometimes singing in prescribed rhythms that were influenced by the text. Senn uses a technique of "phrase resetting," in which the first rhythmic phrase of each section is the source for the rhythmic fragments found throughout. The two-part formal design of the piece is largely determined by tempo and dynamic structure. Senn writes:
- The title of this piece came from a lecture given by Herbert Brün at the University of Illinois in the early 1980s where he remarked that listening to music intended to send an emotional message about the author, like that of angst, suffering, love etc., made him feel uncomfortable and like a "Peeping Tom." He was referring specifically to art which was narcissistic by nature and inevitably limited by existing language. Brün was not opposed to evoking emotions in art but was uncomfortable with the restraints imposed by art originating as such.
The piece's text:
- As a kid I was rapt by one-way mirrors. NOT because I was a voyeur. Though indeed I was. BUT because of an idea. I knew that light bounced off mirrors. So it seemed possible to trap light within a sphere surfaced with this one-way mirror stuff. A cheap source of light! The sphere would collect light until it blew up or some of it was let out.
- A friend of mine has a brain like that. And to keep it - his brain - from exploding he expresses himself. He writes music. And he does this by transcribing the sounds he hears inside his head. He copes this way. And when I hear his music I feel like a voyeur again.
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Works for Percussion by this Composer