Date of Award
Master of Music (MM)
School of Music
HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY
How to Disappear Completely is written for chamber choir (eight solo voices) and a mixed ensemble of piano, electric guitar, vibraphone, and bass drum. The text is taken from the wikiHow article titled How to Disappear Completely. This article discusses the steps required to abandon one’s current life and start over somewhere else, doing so without anyone else knowing. The article has ten steps which are divided into three large sections. This piece of music is divided up in the same way.
The first part, THINKING IT THROUGH, discusses the preliminary steps required for such a disappearance. The first movement of part one, Understand the Legal Ramifications, urges the listener to understand the various consequences of disappearing for different reasons. Though the article goes into detail of what these consequences could be, I chose to set only the words “understand the legal ramifications.”
The second movement, Know that You Must Go Alone, discusses the reasons one would need to disappear without the aid of another person or without another person knowing. This not only prevents being discovered, but it lessens serious legal consequences of disappearing with another person. The third movement, Understand What You’re Running From, urges the listener to have a deep understanding of the specific reasons they are planning to disappear. The way a person would need to approach their disappearance could vary greatly depending on if they are disappearing for personal or legal reasons.
The second part is called COVERING YOUR TRACKS. This section discusses the preliminary measures that need to be taken for a successful disappearance. The fourth movement, Get Rid of Certain Possessions, urges the listener not to keep any mementos or items that will create nostalgia for them. This not only ties them to their previous life, but certain articles of clothing can also make it easier to recognize a person. The fifth movement, Disconnect Yourself, discusses the need to remove yourself from social media and social situations slowly. The abundance of technology makes it difficult to disappear successfully. Movement six, Get Rid of the Plastic, generally urges the listener to only use cash from this point forward, because electronic payments make it easier to track a person. The seventh movement, lie, discusses the harsh truth that one needs to be deceptive and dishonest if they wish to disappear. This includes lying to friends and family.
The third part, YOUR NEW IDENTITY, discusses the actual act of disappearing. Movement eight, Gather Your Resources, is the active act of preparing what you will need to have with you for your disappearance. The ninth movement, Leave Town, is the actual act of disappearing. This discusses how to find a new place to go, and how to go about travelling there. Leave Town also urges the listener to carefully think through their disappearance one last time, as this is the biggest commitment. The tenth and final movement, Cultivate New Habits, discusses how to rid oneself of their old personality. Old personality traits can make it easier to be found, so developing and committing to new ones will make one more difficult to track. This is the longest movement, repeating the words “cultivate new habits” and “forever.”
Minimalism influences How to Disappear Completely. This is most apparent in the first and final movements, which have very slow and little harmonic change. Each large part has its own dramatic curve. Part one peaks in movement two, part two peaks in movement seven, and part three peaks in movement nine.
How to Disappear Completely uses scales as diatonic sets. These sets create diatonic clusters in several movements. Most movements use aeolian and dorian modes. Pitch class D is the pitch center for many of these scales and modes. Pitch class D is significant because it is well established in the first two movements but does not return until the climax in movement seven. The key of E has significance in two movements. The first half of movement four is centered around E, though E is never used as an arrival point. This is significant because movement four discusses the first act of disappearing. A tonal center revolving around E does not return until the final movement, when the disappearance has completed.
KEYWORDS: how to disappear completely; disappear; chamber choir
Watson, Gregory, "How to Disappear Completely" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 897.