Innova 624

Matthew Smith



Symphony 8 in Four Movements (2003)

for eight jaw harps, six 1/16-size Suzuki violins, strings, and percussion

1          I           13:36

2          II         10:07

3          III        7:22

4          IV        9:07


5. Zeitgeist (2003)       11:04

for bass clarinet, marimba, xylophone, piano, and percussion


Symphony 4 in Five Movements (2001)

for four 1/16-size Suzuki violins and strings

6          I           3:39

7          II         1:48

8          III        6:25

9          IV        3:29

10        V         4:43



Except for Track 5, Zeitgeist, performed by

Zeitgeist new music ensemble at Studio Z, St. Paul:

patrick oŐkeefe: bass clarinet

heather barringer: marimba, percussion

patti cudd: xylophone, percussion

anatoly larkin: piano


Matthew Smith is a Minneapolis composer and artist.  He was a 2004 McKnight Composer Fellow through the American Composers Forum, and recipient of a Jerome Foundation/Zeitgeist residency.

Mastered by Greg Reierson at Rare Form Mastering, Minneapolis, MN, August, 2004

innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.


Design: UMod007, Philip Blackburn

Paintings: Matthew Smith

Thank you Lauren


I have been a painter, a musician, and a composer for most of my life. When I paint I use a large table-sized palette onto which I squeeze out blobs of color representing the entire spectrum. I dip my brush in and begin layering paint on canvas, building up an organization of color, texture, line, gesture, and form that eventually unifies as a completed work. My musical composition process is strikingly similar, as I record myself playing various instruments onto a multi-track digital recorder, trying out textural and color combinations, erasing entire sections, and building up layer upon layer of sounds as I find my way towards a satisfying and unified whole. I am at home in both of these worlds; a bow stroke is like a brush stroke, both a matter of touch.


The composition of Symphony 8 began with the recording of improvisations on cello influenced harmonically and texturally by viol music of the 15th and 16th centuries. I had no preconceived direction or shape in mind other than the desire to create a work that unfolded more slowly and deliberately than my previous compositions. Over the course of many months I found myself increasingly influenced by the world of BrucknerŐs Eighth Symphony; his large chunks of sound events progressing through time, anxious, but unhurried. For more than a year I recorded, layered, deleted, and repositioned sounds, paying increased attention to the repetition and development of musical cells and motifs. I also used a number of non-traditional instruments such as jaw harp, anklung, steel drum, talking drum, and Vietnamese wood blocks, each with its own distinct emotional color and texture.


ŇZEITGEISTÓ was created in collaboration with the new music ensemble Zeitgeist, as I was invited to participate in their annual five day Composer Workshop. Since I donŐt notate my compositions it was necessary to communicate what I wanted them to perform through a variety of mouth sounds, whistling, body gestures, and maddeningly inadequate verbal instructions. During the five days I made about fifty recordings of ensemble and individual performances. For the next two months I mined this source material for sections and fragments, (some as short as one note), and through the process of layering, erasing, nudging, and sweating, I painted this work.


I began composing Symphony 4 on September 10th, 2001. Improvising on the cello I recorded numerous tracks of non-melodic sounds emphasizing the roughness of the bow on gut strings and the darkness of the celloŐs body. The next morning brought the shock of  9/11 and for the next two and a half months I worked everyday under the influence of that event.