Young has used texts as a structural device in many of her compositions. Her first text-based piece was Along the Periphery (1993) for solo violin; many of the text pieces that followed were based on Young's recipes for food preparation, and she calls them "The Recipe Pieces."
Gardening and food preparation have long been among Young's primary activities, and in creating these works she hopes to integrate the experience of the practical world with the sometimes-abstract world of music. She also hopes to present a format where 'play' takes a higher priority, by creating a form which can be played at varying levels of expertise, where the performers experience less sense of danger, less threat of possible failure.
The structures of the texts – all written by Young – allow a degree of freedom to performers without reducing the complexity of the music. The texts, or rather the performers' imagining of the texts, determine rhythm and phrasing as well as timbre and dynamics. The text also acts as a compositional algorithm to control transitions into different musical "gestalts" (different pitch organizations, for example) that form the structures of the compositions.
Young's text pieces are discussed in the paper "Thinking with Art: From Situated Knowledge to Experiential Knowing" by Ian Sutherland and Sophia Krzys Acord, published in The Journal of Visual Art Practice 6, no. 2: 125-140 (2007).
Focusing on the practice of composer Gayle Young (...) the setting up of conditions for interactive experience illuminates the ways in which experiential knowledge takes place in a distributed manner. As Csikszentmihalyi (1996: 23) concluded, 'creativity does not happen inside people's heads, but in the interaction between a person's thoughts and a sociocultural context'. Like creativity, experiential knowledge is inseparable from the context of its production and reception, a fact clarified by recent work in actor network theory. These artists highlight this phenomenon by challenging audiences to question existing systems of meaning, and draw upon tacit and embodied tools of interpretation in the encounter with contemporary artistic forms. Ultimately, we claim that understanding knowledge as action best frames the future of public engagement with creative practice, social structures and cultural forms.
| THE RECIPE PIECES |
"Along The Periphery" (1993) for solo violin, performed by Marc Sabat, Continuum Music, Glenn Gould Hall, Toronto, April 1993.
"Internal Combustion" (1994) for flute, clarinet, cello, French horn. Premiered Oct/94 by Groundswell, Winnipeg, at the Western Canada Aviation Museum, with musicians located on wings of planes.
"Black Bean Soup" (1994) for any combination of 12-tone and 19-tone instruments. Premiered Jan 22, 1994, by Critical Band with 19-tone electric guitar, (John Gzowski) and violin (Malcolm Goldstein); performed at Newfoundland Sound Symposium, July 1998. (This was the first of the recipe pieces.)
"Tomato Sauce, Tomato Eaters" (1997) for microtonal instruments designed by John Gzowski, Genesh Anandan and Gayle Young, premiered by Critical Band, Dec. 1997. Version with pre-recorded sound played by Hyperion ensemble, Bucharest, Romania 1999, and in Dusseldorf, Germany, 2000.
"Lost Wood" (1998) for flute in quarter-tones with string accompaniment. Premiered by Ellen Waterman, April 23, 1998, at Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto. Also played at MacDonald Stewart Arts Centre, Guelph, and Concordia University, Montreal.
"The State of Corn" (1998) for cello, baritone and mezzo voices. Commisioned and premiered by NUMUS Ensemble, Kitchener, Nov 13, 1998.
"Buckwheat / Sarrasin" (2000) for accordion, cello, Amaranth, in quarter-tone tuning. Premiered at the Festival Mic-Mac, Musée d'art contemporaine, Montreal, Nov 4, 2000; recorded and broadcast Feb, 10, 2001 on Radio Canada's Le Navire Night.
"Crucial Fluid" (2000) for Theremin, cello, pre-recorded sounds derived from recordings made by Hugh Le Caine. Performed by Vancouver New Music, at Performance Works, Jan. 2001.
"Mee-zoh" (2001) For solo instrument in twelve-tone equal temperament. Performed by Tom Bickley, solo recorder with electronics, at Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, April 6, 2001.
"Rain Fell" (2001) for any number of trombones, performed outdoors at a workshop on the trombone organized by Abbie Conant, in a redwood forest near San Francisco, June, 2001.
"Forest Ephemerals: Four Flowers" (2004) for solo piano, premiered by Eve Egoyan in July 2004 at the Newfoundland Sound Symposium in St. John's, Newfoundland. Broadcast July 15/04 on Two New Hours, CBC Radio Two.