Concerto for Mannequin Head is a work for live modulated vocals and pre-recorded electronic accompaniment. Additionally, the piece incorporates a few ritualistic/theatrical performance elements. (These elements are not optional, but they are open to interpretation and embellishment.)
The performer, who can be male or female, is obscured for most of the piece, either in darkness, or behind a curtain or screen, or offstage entirely. The stage is entirely dark except for a single spotlight on a pedestal center stage. A mannequin head rests on this pedestal, as if performing the vocal part. In reality, the human performer sings the part. The performer also brings the mannequin head to the pedestal during the “Introitus” (2:18-3:40), interacts with the head during the "Cadenza" (9:00-10:20), and takes the head away from the pedestal during the “Exitus” (10:20-11:58).
By sponsoring a visual dialogue between the genuine and the illusory, which mirrors and enhances the implicit aural dialogue found in electroacoustic music (between “real” and “fake” sounds), the Concerto ultimately renders this dialogue incoherent, ecstatically embracing the fiction and suspension of disbelief makes stuff possible.
N.B.: Keep in mind that there is also a potential enactment/critique of heteronormativity that is strongly affected by the gender presentation of the performer(s) involved.
released September 1, 2008
Isaac Schankler, electronics
Mannequin Head, vocals