by Dan Senn
for Piano Quartet (piano, violin, viola and 'cello)
duration 6-7 minutes

Polite Society was written in the winter of 2019-20 in Prague and completed at Waterhouse Studio in Watertown, WI on January 28, 2020.
It is for piano quartet.

This is a programmatic work written during the Senate impeachment trial of a former US President. I did not set out to write a work reflecting this ugly event but reading newspapers daily, I realized somewhere along the line that my otherwise rigid compositional system was being influenced, perhaps, by an external events. I toyed with titling the piece "The Death of Polite Society".
Polite Society works with two competing timbral groups: the string trio sounds and those of the piano. It includes gestures and sections integrated using the same pitch materials; passages where the piano is dominant with the strings in an ornamental-support role; places where this role is inverted; and, so on. These shifts in role give rise to social interpretations and, while not initially intended, this scheme was susceptible to dramatic outside forces even if the original plan remained intact. When I listen to my work here, I think little of the systems at play. DS

Purchase a PDF of the full score and parts below. Polite Society may be previewed as a video here. Sound alone of the piece scan be heard by clicking play below.

Dan Senn (Prague-Watertown) is an intermedia artist working in music composition and production, kinetic sound sculpture, experimental and documentary film. He has been a professor of music and art in the United States and Australia and travels internationally as a lecturer, performer and installation artist. He lives in Prague where he directs the Echofluxx festivals, and Watertown, Wisconsin, the USA, with his partner-collaborator, Caroline Senn. Dan's work moves freely between expressive extremes and languages depending upon the aesthetic joust at hand. Dan is cofounder of Roulette Intermedium in New York City, Cascadia Composers of Portland Oregon, and the Echofluxx media festivals in Prague. (read more).