Psicopata.yellow was commissioned as a work for solo cello to represent “women who persist.” As part of my research at the time for this piece, I was able to interview several women who were
involved in domestic violence situations, physical and mental abuse, retaliation at work and in the home, and loss of identity and opportunity at the hands of an individual. Overwhelmingly the word used to describe an aggressor was as a “psychopath.”
The last few years have seen the extensive examination of the psychological profile of the psychopath. This label, commonly associated with serial killers and criminals, in fact may define at least one percent of the general population. This personality disorder gravitates to leadership roles, and is commonly found in business, politics, and academic environments. Psychopaths are superficially charming, and tend to make good first impressions. Yet, they are eventually identified as self-centered, dishonest, undependable, and at times engage in irresponsible behavior for no apparent reason.
Largely devoid of guilt, empathy and love, psychopaths routinely offer excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead.
In many cases, the women interviewed could not tell their full stories because of specific limitations, and also because of overwhelming PTSD. As some of these interviewees described their trauma, many seemed to recall one specific comment or statement, uttered by their aggressors, that was used to harm them fundamentally. In response to these statements, the women were asked, if they could say anything back to these psychopaths that had harmed them, what would it be in order to tell them that they will persist. These statements of aggression and persistence are notated according to the speech syntax of the person saying them, and embedded throughout the piece as motivic material.
Psicopata.yellow attempts to give voice to those who persist.
The piece includes some extended techniques, including "bluegrass chop" bowings, "scratch tones," and "shuffle bowing" patterns. The piece is somewhat sectional, but intended to flow as much as the performer would like between each division. Divisions are indicated by tempi changes that reflect the progression of these women experincing agression and overcoming it.
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