Of Cycles and Loss: How an Interval Cycle affects meaning in Bang on a Can's "Lost Objects"

Sean Atkinson, University of Texas at Arlington

Contemporary compositions involving aspects in addition to music, whether they be staged performances (Glass's Einstein on the Beach), video (Reich's Three Tales, the Glass/Reggio Qatsi films), or other non-musical domain, are richly complex in not only the interactions between the music and other domains, but also in the narrative that these works attempt to convey. Unraveling meaning in these works is challenging, in that they often intentionally defy singular interpretations. One such work, Lost Objects, is particularly confounding in its use of unique staging, disparate musical ensembles, and a live DJ, all combined with the notion of loss, both from personal and global perspectives. The result is a complex look at how we deal with loss, both individually and as a society. This presentation considers two movements from Lost Objects that make use of an ic3,4 multi-aggregate double- interval cycle as a generator of melodic and harmonic material. Drawing on previous work by Martins (2006) and Gollin (2007), motion around and through the cycle is mapped in order to better explain details of the musical surface. These musical illuminations are then combined with the text and visual domains in an analytical model, based on a conceptual integration network (Zbikowski 2002), resulting in not a single interpretation, but an array of possible interpretations appropriate for such a work.