Sean McCann, "Saccharine Scores"


An album/artbook documenting Sean McCann’s recent chamber compositions. Ranging from the 10-person ensemble performance of "Portraits of Friars" at Fylkingen, Stockholm in February 2018, to his first quartet piece "Victorian Wind"performed in Toronto in 2014. McCann’s scores leak pastoral and bizarre passages, dancing in the banal beauty of sound poetry. The performances feature guest musicians Sarah Davachi, Zachary Paul, Geneva Skeen, Celia Eydeland, Maxwell August Croy and more.

The book holds in-depth scores, program notes, and photography by McCann.  A lovely compliment to finger through while you lay down to listen to the disc.  It holds text and imagery from the pieces, along with musical notation.

The notes for "Pistons" follow here:

I assembled this piece while wanting to make my life of leisure and gluttony in London somehow artistic. I was in London for a week or ten days in October 2017 for a business trip. I love London. I love doing two things at a time or more. So it worked out.I find I have a hard time enjoying anything unless I am multitasking. For example right now as I type this description I am also drinking old coffee with ice-cubes in it, exporting a master from Pro-Tools downstairs, and watching Friday the 13th: A New Beginning on the television set.

So in this British multitasking I decided to work on a piece of music while indulging in food and drink roaming around London. I was also reading Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal during these outings (talk about sentimental). Some elements of those poems crept their way, drawn out of order, into Celia’s singing text.

As with all my compositions to this point, they are left open to interpretation – no real meaning, just flickers of settings and emotions.

The taste of everything below (the score) spawned thoughts of colors and elements and people and emotions, though with the text I decided to keep it simply about the food and the beverages. The romantic music and singing is the rendering of the emotions I felt, while my banal reading was the actual act of consumption. I recorded the text while lying down in my childhood bedroom in Goleta, California. Half asleep just trying to get it over with. A fitting situation for the piece: forced beauty.

"I had the great pleasure to perform on two of the pieces within this unique collection of Sean’s work.  What I admire most about Sean’s process is his ability to synthesize various prosaic experiences of day-to-day life so delicately and so beautifully within numerous contexts – music, speech, sound, text, visual imagery, and physical space.  Although these four works each offer a particular frame to an indefinite moment, they are united in my mind by a sort of latent simplicity.  Their classical orientation is unconventional – it is not the pastoral mechanism at work here per se, but rather the lingering aftertaste of a place and a time, unfolding in a decidedly visceral manner.  Hearing these works again in their recorded format, I am reminded of the deliberate hand behind the composition, and the careful pacing and placement of the musical experience here, both as it manifests in the player’s awareness and as it is quietly subsumed into the elegant folds of the collective whole."         -Sarah Davachi

More information can be found here.