Erin Gee on her Mouthpiece series

My paintings have neither objects nor space nor time nor anything—no forms. They are light, lightness, and merging, about formlessness, breaking down form.

—Agnes Martin

When we study the science of breath, the first thing / we notice is that breath is audible.

—Hazrat Inayat Kahn

Mouthpiece I (1999) was the first of the Mouthpiece series, which now consists of more than 25 pieces, and is based on non-semantic vocal sounds. The series began as a set for solo voice and now encompasses works for voice and orchestra, voice and large ensemble, opera and choir.

In the Mouthpiece series, the voice is used as an instrument of sound production rather than as a vehicle of identity. Linguistic meaning is not the voice’s goal.

The construction of the vocal text is often based on linguistic structure—vowel-consonant formation and the principle of the allophone—and is relatively quiet, with a high percentage of breath.

The Mouthpieces presuppose a state of listening. They engage physiology rather than psychology.

The Mouthpieces for chamber ensemble and voice map non-semantic vocal structures throughout the ensemble, expanding and refracting the articulatory possibilities of a single vocalist.