Annie Gosfield: Five Will Get You Seven

Five Will Get You Seven (2001)
by Annie Gosfield

Five Will Get You Seven was written for Zeitgeist, developed with the ensemble, and conceived with the group’s individual strengths and personalities in mind. Pat O’Keefe and I worked together delving deep into the realms of bass clarinet multiphonics, non-traditional fingerings, and microtonal bends. Heather Barringer told me a story about beating on pieces of metal in her backyard as a child (home-made percussion care of her metalworker father) which inspired me to incorporate assorted metal percussion into her part. Patti Cudd provides the percussive engine that supports the metal and multiphonics, driving on through the din and clamor. The title, Five Will Get You Seven, refers to the extended sections of five (quintuplets on the tom toms) against seven (septuplets on the snare), and a gambler’s notion of a wager well placed. The bet’s not a long shot: Zeitgeist has made this work their own and created something more than the mere notes on paper that I wrote for them. Special thanks to the musicians, the Jerome Foundation, and Anthony Gatto for making this project happen.

—Annie Gosfield

Annie Gosfield whom the BBC called “A one woman Hadron collider” is a composer based in New York City. She has written pieces for violin and jammed radio signals, a concert-length work for her band that recreates factory environments, and chamber music inspired by deteriorating 78 RPM records. Her music couples unorthodox sources with a personal approach to working with musicians. She strives to reveal the inherent beauty of found sounds, noise, and machines from both the past and present, while emphasizing the unique abilities of each performer. In recent years, her music has evolved from chamber work and performances by her own group to bigger projects in opera and orchestral music. In all of her work, she invites the listener to appreciate all sounds, without dividing the world into separate categories of music and noise. 

Annie was dubbed “a master of musical feedback” by the New York Times, who wrote “Ms. Gosfield’s choice of sounds — which on this occasion included radio static, the signals transmitted by the Soviet satellite Sputnik I, and recordings of Hurricane Sandy — are never a mere gimmick. Her extraordinary command of texture and timbre means that whether she is working with a solo cello or with the ensemble she calls her 21st-century avant noisy dream band, she is able to conjure up a palette of saturated and heady hues.” 

Gosfield has been awarded fellowships by the Guggenheim Foundation (2017), the American Academy in Berlin (2012), the American Academy in Rome (Fromm Composer in residence, 2015), The Siemens Foundation (to “combine art and industry” in factories) and held the Darius Milhaud Chair at Mills College.

Annie’s most recent work includes an opera performed by the L.A. Phil in Walt Disney Concert Hall and on the streets of L.A.; a portrait concert of music reflecting on immigrant experiences; an orchestral cello concerto; and a sextet inspired by, and performed under, Diego Rivera’s “Detroit Industry” murals.