Los Angeles – The days of Honest Abe have long gone. When the president says something we doubt it, dissect it, debate it and in many cases designate it as untrue. But why? Have we decided that our leaders lie, or are we reacting to past lies told by presidents?
Drew Schnurr, a Los Angeles composer and UCLA professor, has recently cracked the code. In a piece entitled Symphony of Lies, Schnurr has extracted the melodies and rhythms from three American presidents, including President Bill Clinton, President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Richard Nixon at the moment they told some of this centuries most infamous lies. Using the speech inflections of each lie, Symphony of Lies is a musical display that represents the psychologically ominous impact of lying.
Over the past decades, we have caught our leaders telling “white lies” and deceitful coordinated lies. A white lie is a considered to be an often trivial, diplomatic or a well-intentioned untruth. White lies have the power to shift human perception but they have also been the motivators for much more influential events. “A lie is what we give power to,” commented Schnurr “and the impact of lies is distrust.” Whether lies are told with a total disregard to their influence or with good intent, deciding upon their personal impact is up to you.
Persee: Orchestrated Perception - Eye-Opening Music – Event Review
Avant-garde composer and UCLA professor Drew Schnurr’s mélange of visual and sound phenomena ripped a thread or two off the king’s robe with a formidable, mixed-media expose of the lies of U.S. presidents on Thursday night at the Regent Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. His experimental Persee: Orchestrated Perception filled the well-attended room with a series of stimulating musical and digital masterpieces. I loved it.
With the third piece of the evening, Drew answers his own question: What is the sound of deceit?- with the clever juxtaposition of repetitive, minimalist flashes of lies on a screen, and methodical bursts of disquieting chords. Like Beethoven himself, he uses volcanic string attacks to challenge the business-as-usual social veneer at the highest socio-political level.
Digital media artist Michael Chu was the visual player of the moment, adeptly projecting each of the lie’s words as its melody slid, or thundered, off the instruments. It made me wonder if an audience attuned to the music of deceit might not better recognize the nature of those they wish to lead them before selecting them for positions of power. Or do we hear their music without really listening? Hmmm.
The other two pieces were fascinating in their own ways. I’d never heard Drew before, and was impressed with his chamber ensemble’s melodic and harmonic ebbs and flows. By the end of the first piece I was captivated along with the rest of the audience. And the second piece, accompanied by C.E.B. Reas’s moment-to-moment digital process - which had me feeling like I was witness to the beauty of microbial flowering - was intoxicating. This composer bends and stretches rules within his own aesthetic, weaving his musical ideas in harmonious waves that threaten to drown, yet gently tumble
the listener forward with intrigue and anticipation.
Review by Adam Rosenthal, freelance writer, poet and songwriter from