Sweet Nothings
fl, b cl, vln, vc, perc, pno, el pno
Adrian Knight Music

︎︎︎Detailed Inventory

flute (also alto flute)
bass clarinet


electric piano*

*Rhodes 88 or 88-key imitation Rhodes


‘Sweet Nothings’ was written during the course of 2020-2021, coinciding tragically with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The work comprises seven pieces for an expanded ‘Pierrot’ ensemble. I wanted to write a kind of music that would evoke the ‘sweet nothings’ whispered in a loved one’s ear at night, a music that lets its guard down and simply exists in an uncorrupted, elemental state of charitable innocence.

I tend to think of my work in general as an ever-evolving environment consisting of many individual smaller structures. The only true constant is that they are shaped by intuition alone, with only my innate affinity for order and exactness directing the assembly of ideas into something cohesive, something I can call a ‘work.’ I seek formations that seem to have materialized organically and unpredictably, yet have an air of inevitability to them. This game of blending, juxtaposing, contrasting is akin to creating and navigating a labyrinth at the same time: in this sense, the music is as new to me as it would be to a listener—I just happen to be the first one to hear it. Whether to get lost in the maze, or attempt to actively follow its surreal ‘logic’ is left to the listener.

Formally, the work is hard to summarize, because it was written intuitively and grew spontaneously into the form it finally settled in. The first five sections form a chain, with some content floating freely between them. Movements six and seven form a separate unit,  a new item on the itinerary. Much of the music contains local symmetries of harmony, rhythm and contour. The two keyboard parts and the vibraphone part dominate throughout the work and provide the bedrock of this artificial sonic habitat. Strands of muzak, discarded soundbites from the local mall, utopian geometries, a futuristic sheen like the reflection of smog-infused sunlight in skyscraper glass, the crystal world of J.G. Ballard—I found these things and gathered them together for this occasion, for this exhibit of ‘sweet nothings,’ like a window display at Saks Fifth Ave.

A band of seven players—two winds and two strings, in addition to the keyboards and percussion—take these schematics and bring the mechanism online. As willing participants in this social activity, the audience members also agree to be watched by the performers and are encouraged to disarm themselves and unite in recognition of the sweetness of inconsequentiality. It is in the cracks of the facade of ‘meaning’ that permeate our societal self-image that we find a certain restfulness, perhaps something approaching harmony.

︎︎︎Score Excerpts

Copyright © by Adrian Knight 2022.