In the fall of 2010 dancer and choreographer Corey McKenna approached me about composing music for a new piece he was creating for the upcoming UNL Student Dance Project in December of that year. He wanted a piece that would express a sense of being unsettled and that questioned identity. More importantly the piece was to be about silencing and the struggle to express one’s self. I created the piece by recording the dancers reading answers to a variety of questions Corey had given them. I then processed the samples using a variety of techniques including bit- and sample-reduction to get a grainy, distorted sound.
When choreographing The Loudness of Silence Corey knew he wanted to explore both the use of text and random choreography. Random choreography was used in Merce Cunningham’s approach to choreography, especially choreographing the stochastic and aleatoric works of John Cage: the role of a die, an individual’s phone number, or the number of people you passed before you got to the dance studio could all determine an order of movement or sequencing seen in the choreography. For Corey, he decided to write his dancer’s names and some key ideas down on pieces of paper. He then threw the papers up in the air and whichever pieces of paper were face up determined the net move. So if the word “run” and the name “Kirsten” were facing up, the next move would naturally be “Kirsten runs.” Corey wanted this dance to be a confessional, letting the audience in on a secret. Each dancer was asked to think about a couple of questions, and they bravely agreed to share their minds and voices with all of us.