Sound American – The Life Issue

Sound American Publications announces its 27th issue, THE LIFE ISSUE, a reflection upon the smallness—and largeness—of living amidst a tumultuous, globally-shared moment. 

The Life Issue contributors include claire rousay, who writes about the many cuts accumulated while learning something new; pedal steel superhero Susan Alcorn recounts a battle with injury; composer Jack Langdon offers Sound American’s second fiction offering, a story of how the pandemic affects a fictional musician, presenter, and listener; composer Lea Bertucci interviews improvising vocalist Audrey Chen about identity, commitment to music, and motherhood; bass clarinetist Katie Porter lets us in on a quarantine’s worth of deep-questioning and the looping beauty of banality.

Sound American’s ongoing series, “Sites of Formation”, celebrates the piano, featuring writing by pianists Pat Thomas (on Ahmed Abdul-Malik) and Cory Smythe (on Henri Pousseur), as well as Dr. Douglas Rust on the Elliott Carter Piano Sonata and Sound American’s editor, Nate Wooley on the Vangelis’s keyboard-heavy soundtrack to Chariots of Fire. This issue also includes writing by saxophonist Chris Pitsiokos on NYC guerilla concerts during lockdown and a roundtable discussion from members of the Catalytic Sound collective—Ken Vandermark, Luke Stewart, and Bonnie Jones led by Brock Stuessi—on their work to create a streaming platform as an alternative to Spotify.

This issue’s Exquisite Corpse is an elegant, nostalgic site-specific work by composer, flutist, vocalist Ka Baird. The Life Issue also features a world-premiere, sixteen-page set of drawings with introduction by Lebanese-born, Berlin-based artist Mazen Kerbaj. The drawings feature his intimate, aching, everyday trek through multiple shutdowns.

As we move on from a generation-defining year-and-a-half, The Life Issue allows some of the artists we love to speak intimately as people: people who happen to make art. Without requiring responses to the great traumas of the last eighteen months, the issues allows them to reaffirm their everyday humanity through the small injuries and victories, the days of nothing happening, and the ways that they try to fit in as small parts of a huge world. A unique issue of Sound American, it reaffirms the journal’s mission of making music for everyone in new and unexpected ways.