Nothing but the Blood is a fixed media piece that relies heavily on the hymn of the same name both musically and symbolically. The piece unfolds in three distinct locations: an industrial and highly electronic opening, a natural interior, and a concert with narration. The music in this final location is heavily influenced by the Scherzo from Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia. I composed the narration heard in the final section as well based largely on a dream I had with a few images from the apocalyptic passages of the Book of Daniel and George Orwell’s 1984.
The vast majority of the sounds heard in the piece were created in Max/MSP. I then sequenced them in a DAW, creating the directional juxtapositions that drive the piece. The juxtaposition of musical and extra-musical symbols make the work highly enigmatic. In many ways I think that the piece is as much a mystery to me as it is for the listener.
What I can say for certain is that the issue of redemption is central to the piece’s symbolic narrative – a clear result of the use of the hymn Nothing but the Blood. The piece contrasts this need for redemption with images of the beast: the beast of machines, the beasts of the natural world and the beast of sin. Such beasts are in and around all of us. Can we be saved?
This piece was premiered on May 17, 2021 at University United Methodist Church in Syracuse, New York during the 2021 Society for New Music Young Composers Pop-up Concert.