From the 1990s to mid-2000s something happened within power dynamics of interiority, the idea that music, as art, can transcend, transport, and transform experience. During this time, verbal notation, a score construction relying on prose notation, was a tool used by composers for shifting the litmus test of interiority away from themselves and onto performers. As performers became the main generators of music’s interiority, fractured legacies of interiority from the eighteenth and nineteenth- century developed as compositional devices within the scores. With this shift, performers produced the composition’s interiority and in turn its justification as art.
Similarly, in the1990s, the field of musicology experienced a paradigm shift from composer-centric (mind) discourse to performer-centric (body) discourse with works such as Feminine Endings (1991) and Queering the Pitch (1996). As a signifier of transcendent practice, interiority was studied as coming from bodies. In verbally notated scores, however, interiority is generated simultaneously by the performer’s body and intellect. By focusing on three verbally notated scores, I assert verbally notated scores, as a subset of American Experimentalism, perpetuated a fragmented legacy of interiority within its performers. In this presentation, I examine Pauline Oliveros Breaking Boundaries (1991); Stephon Montague’s Kristallnacht (1998); and Jennifer Walshe’s This is Why People O.D. On Pills/and Jump From the Golden Gate Bridge (2004). Drawing from John Lely Word Events (2012), I use the grammatical tools of context, processes, and voice to question how and what kind of interiority these three scores demand from their performers.