Whether due to the structural instability of the gig economy, the oppressive finitude of temporary work, or the ever-present threat of imprisonment and deportation imposed on undocumented workers, precariousness has become the defining characteristic of a growing number of modern workers. This nascent economic class, the precariat, is more susceptible to economic coercion and therefore less given to self organizing around a politics of solidarity; in other words, it is the supine labor source that capital dreams of.
Precarity Songs deals with this economic reality through words and musical grammar. The first song, Punctum, reflects on the qualitative differences in time as experienced by those whose lives are defined by the unpredictability of their material circumstances. The second, Four Until L8, takes musical time and harmonic structure as a field in which to explore the psychology of anxiety and expectation. The third, Pietà, depicts the case of refugee children in Sweden who, faced with the imminent deportation of their families, fall into a near-comatose state, Uppgivenhetssyndrom (resignation syndrome).
Precarity Songs was premiered by Quince Ensemble at New York’s DiMenna Center on March 9th, 2019.
Amanda DeBoer Bartlett
Carrie Henneman Shaw