Ventriloquist was originally written as material for my saxophone quartet, Blissing Out. Technically, the saxophone writing, which is constructed entirely from progressions of sonorities achieved by changing only one key at a time, was an attempt to come to terms with an instrument of which I had no experience playing. Because all of the creative decisions were based entirely on technical considerations and not on a critical ear, the resulting sounds flow into one another in ways they might not if aural considerations were prioritized. I think of the process of writing this piece as finding my own way through the saxophone’s labyrinth of sonic possibilities.
The title’s significance is twofold. Ventriloquist literally means “belly talker”, an image that seems apt for the saxophone, which produces sound mostly from the keyholes up and down its tube. Additionally, I like the parallels between the image of the saxophonist with her instrument and that of the ventriloquist with her dummy.
Ventriloquist was premiered by Geoffrey Landman at Brooklyn's 109 Gallery on May 1st, 2013 as part of the MIKROS Festival.