Years ago, I was at a summer garage sale and came across a dusty old book titled Gregg Speed Studies. Published in 1917, this hardback was a complete guide to increasing speed and accuracy in the craft of shorthand. Initially, I was intrigued by the way in which this book shed light on a bygone era before the prevalent use of typewriters. However, as I flipped through the tattered pages, I noticed that the majority of it was comprised of writing and comprehension exercises designed to rigorously focus upon particularly difficult combinations of words. However, rather than simply asking the student to practice by only writing those specific words, the author chose to place these drills within the context of complete sentences.
The result was line after line of sentences that seem to have been randomly plucked from a library of imaginary novels. While many of these sentences were quite mundane, several of them jumped out to me as highly provocative and even quite sinister. Three of these phrases were particularly compelling to me not only because of their individual suggestiveness, but also because they seemed to form a loose narrative when grouped together. Though somewhat abstracted, I took inspiration from that resulting narrative for this piece, while basing much of my melodic and gestural material upon the contours of the shorthand itself.
She sang a song of a cruel and jealous lover.
The clock chimed the hour of midnight and there was a profound quiet about the grounds.
He wiped the knife twice on a pile of rags.