Alzheimer’s (2004)

This piece for solo electric guitar w/electronics attempts to imagine and express the inner and outer worlds experienced by someone who has Alzheimer’s disease and by those in their inner circle. In an attempt to personalize the experience, the performer is to choose a subject afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and derive the pitch material for the piece from the subject’s birth date and date of death (or date of performance if the subject is not yet deceased). The rest of the composition then deals with the gradual abstraction and dissolution of the original material that is looped continuously until the end. Sound qualities and events that were initially shocking and extremely painful become a common part of the experience, and as the sonic world becomes more clouded and bizarre, the listener and performer are left to guess if the original remnants remain somewhere in the fabric of sound. Performer confusion is desired as it becomes more difficult to hear and recognize what is a new sound and what is a reflection of the past, and this confusion is confounded by the abstraction of the passage of time. The loop is reversed, mirroring the life arc of the subject, and repeated changes in the speed and direction of the playback dissolve any sense of linear experience.

Image: “Faith and Reason” by Richard Wlodarczak