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Matana Roberts

Auricular Hearsay (2021) for flute, video + optional collaborating performers

density 2036: part viii

Program Notes

Auricular Hearsay (2021) for flute, video + optional collaborating performers

density 2036: part viii

Auricular Hearsay is a conceptual sound work that uses a mixed media framework Roberts is currently developing called “Endless Score.” The work a visual and sonic exploration of the brains of the neurodiverse. Neurodiverse brains operate in starts, stops, spurts. They never rely on a linear track, often flowing in the moment, taking risk, using improvisation as a root for inquiry and organization of various realms of logic. Endless Score is at its foundation a sonic experiment in real time, a tool for infinite performative iteration of a set of guided sounds/instruction, not unlike the models of music restatement, theme and variation that exist within many types of music traditions worldwide, the difference here being the use of a key foundational physiological phenomena to anchor all that will be explored by composer, performer and listener in real time.


Matana Roberts [they/them] have been called "a major talent" (The Wire) and "the spokesperson for a new, politically conscious and refractory Jazz scene" (Jazzthetik). Their Coin Coin work has been widely and highly praised for its stylistic innovations and narrative power. Noted music critic Peter Margasak has written of Coin Coin: "Memory is a powerful thing, but it's so private, fluid, and unreliable that it can seem almost impossible to capture in a work of art—and history is often no more stable, once you look closely enough. Roberts has succeeded at evoking both, though, and gives [their] audience a long look at something ghostly, tragic, and beautiful. [They are] carving out [their] own aesthetic space, startling in its originality and gripping in its historic and social power."

A self-taught mixed media composer, the Chicago-born Roberts earned two degrees in performance from a smattering of American institutions but received their primary training from free arts programs in the American Public School System.

They are a past member of the Black Rock Coalition (BRC) and The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). They have been a Van Lier Fellow, a Brecht Forum Fellow, a Copeland Fellow, a Jerome fellow, an ICASP fellow, an FCA awardee, and won the Alpert Award In The Arts. 


Of their work, Matana says the following: "At my artistic core, I am firmly dedicated to creating a unique and very personal body of sound work that speaks to, and reminds people of all walks of life to reach, stand up, give voice, regardless of difference, created from mere labels of intellectual classification. In my ideal world the idea of 'difference' is an illusion designed only for modern economic division and elitist intellectual hierarchy. Through my life's work, I stand creatively in defiance."

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