SFOpera - Composer's Note

Composer's Note

These documents are exhaustive in their volume and detail. They are remarkable, and we’re fortunate to have them archived, a day-to-day account with every word searchable. Yet they don’t bring me any closer to the lived reality they describe. In fact, the structure of the information—hundreds of thousands of lines of data arranged in blank, opaque spreadsheets and military reports—dehumanizes its content and reaffirms my distance from it.

In setting these texts, I wanted to create musical connections that could help the words resonate on a human level, but that could also highlight the way the information is presented and perceived.

About the auto-tune: I developed this interactive use of vocal processing with composer Philip White, in our work as the vocal/electronics duo R WE WHO R WE. I think of the auto-tune in The Source as a not-quite-perfect reflection of the self. It may be an image filtered through endless data on a computer screen, or one neutralized by the distance between Brooklyn and Iraq, or an image of the person we (or Manning) might be if we could play the roles that are expected of us.

Librettist's Note