Mikel Kuehn - Works

...remembrance of things past... (1997/98), for 2 channel fixed media: [Flash Required]


Program Note

...remembrance of things past... is a text-sound composition that uses a recitation (performed by soprano Deborah Norin-Kuehn) of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXX as the basis for its structure and sonic sculpting. The length of the work (10:55) is ten times longer than the recitation and uses an expanded proportion of the timing of each successive word as small sections. These contiguous sections, which sometimes overlap depending on the dramatic stress of the line, contain “embellishments” of each word as they progress in time. All of the sounds in the piece are derived from the voice and are subject to various amounts of digital signal processing. The final couplet of the sonnet is not realized in the piece, as it servers as a structural “escape” (and return to reality) from the lamentations of the previous lines.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXX:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

I summon up remembrance of things past,

I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,

And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:


Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,

For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,

And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,

And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight.


Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,

And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er

The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,

Which I new pay as if not paid before.


(But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,

All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.)

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