The Outrage Machine (2019) 

available from the composer

duration ca. 7:15

 

Instrumentation

piano solo

Program Note

We suffer a crisis of truth and rationality; trapped in a catastrophe of vindictiveness and partisanship where hidden corporate and political interests dictate the words of the media. Catch phrases and talking points loop mindlessly, drowning the aether with static and suffocating reasoned discourse. Newsreaders seeming to present their own thoughts and opinions, instead all read from a single script prepared by unknown parties to advance dark agendas. Dishonest actors, trolls, and bots manipulate social media for nefarious means or mere laughs. The thrill of celebrity drives influencers to heights of inanity and insanity that would be absurd if only they weren’t taken seriously. Our minds are perpetually submitted to an unending barrage of hypocrisy in which any action, no matter how unimportant or innocent, becomes a locus for the fury of those who would incite us. Conspiracies are touted on every breath of wind while truths are engulfed within the festering morass of connectivity as we try desperately to claw our way back to sanity.

Performance Notes

One of the most important inspirations for The Outrage Machine was a collection of clips from dozens of newsreaders across the US reciting, word-for-word, the same editorial as though it were their own; the only differences were in individual inflections. I’ve adapted this idea by permuting a single motive with different accentuations; it is vital for the performer to emphasize these far beyond the norm. Every accent mark throughout the entire piece should stand out as dramatically as possible from the surrounding dynamic. Where that dynamic is already loud, the distinction cannot be as great, of course, but in a passage like the opening, every accented note (in one hand) is to be played fortissimo and the unaccented notes all to be played mezzo piano.

Pedalling is at the discretion of the performer but the faster music, on the whole, should be rather dry. Accidentals carry throughout the measure but do not transpose octaves.

Christopher Coleman

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