Behold this compost!

premiered by Lukas and Niko D. Schroeder @ the Grand Valley State University PAC Art Gallery, April 10th, 2017


[00:28] To a Pupil
[01:50] interlude 1
[02:42] Laws for Creations
[04:25] interlude 2
[06:19] The City Dead-House
[08:50] This Compost I
[10:28] interlude 3
[11:00] This Compost II
[13:18] To a Foil’d European Revolutionary
[17:05] interlude 1 (reprise)
[18:02] What am I After All?

About the Project:

As a quintessential American, it is unsurprising that Walt Whitman’s writings remain universal today. His ideals—particularly those contained in “Autumn Rivulets,” the section of Leaves of Grass from which we drew—are especially incisive in today’s polarized climate.

Our project addresses Whitman’s commentary on individuality, creativity, and the role of creators in the shaping of democracy. Whitman pictures man as selfish and flawed (“What am I After All?), but his insistence on individualism reflects an elevation of the self (“Laws for Creations”) and contrasts traditional, society-oriented solutions to the problems he presents. Rejoicing in our selfishness and imperfection seems to be a fruitless way to address the flaws in education, immigration, democracy, and the many other issues that pervade his work.

Our piece juxtaposes the past with the present—Whitman’s timeless but antiquated vernacular contrasts with the electronic textures generated in Ableton Live, a progressive commercial electronics-processing software. However, the layered guitars and piano reflect the marked, dynamic, and often-reserved pacing of Whitman’s poems, which regularly stretch out line after line. We did not want to alter the intent of Whitman’s messages, but, of course, it was inevitable that our voices influenced their delivery, particularly through the sculpting of musical textures and moods.