Zaum Box


Program Note

Zaum Box, for solo speaking percussionist
duration: variable (17 seconds-24 minutes)

Zaum Box is a collection of ten compositions ranging in length from seventeen seconds to eight minutes, each scored for solo percussionist who orates Russian Futurist poetry while performing on a variety of instruments and devices. The work was commissioned by percussionists Katelyn Rose King and Alexv Rolfe for the speak/strike project. Zaum, or ‘trans-rational’ language, was developed by poet Alexei Kruchenykh in 1913, who asserted that ordinary language could not express the thoughts of the modern mind in a state of inspiration. The experimental poetry of Kruchenykh and others rapidly progressed from the creative deconstruction of grammar, to the invention of words, to the invention of entirely new language of sound beyond rational meaning, and finally to the complete deconstruction of phonemes into graphical constructions, all in the span of just a few years. Each composition of Zaum Box sets a single poem for solo performer. Speech, percussive technique, instrument selection, and the visual appearance of the score are all subject to creative disruption in the spirit of zaum. Performers design trajectories of movement by choosing which of the compositions to perform, their order, many of the instruments, and their physical placement.

About Christopher Adler

Christopher Adler is a composer, performer and improviser living in San Diego, California. His music draws upon over twenty-five years of research into the traditional musics of Thailand and Laos,…