Celebrating 40 years! 1983-2023

Click image above to zoom

Click any image above to view larger

What Can I Do? - SOLO BSN

Composer: Steinmetz, John

Publisher: TrevCo

Edition: 70976


What Can I Do?
for solo bassoon, playing and speaking

by John Steinmetz (b.1951) - American composer, bassoonist, writer, satirist, speaker

This piece is for unaccompanied bassoon, and has brief spoken parts interspersed with the playing.  While meant for a single performer, you could have another person speak the text.  The text suggests light-heartedly that millions of bassoonists should descend on world capitals and corporate headquarters, playing low notes to demand new priorities for people and ecosystems; playing high notes, and power would shift.  It ends by saying:

"When enough people insist on life-affirming practices, then the damage
will stop. And when enough people work for healing and renewal, then ecosystems can begin to recover."

"Anybody can help. Everybody can help. Even if you don't play the bassoon."

Program notes

I grew up adapting to the way of life I was born into—with its internal combustion engines, household machines, supermarkets, factories, throwaway plastics, and other features of industrial society. I assumed it was normal, but, as you know, this way of living has been heating up our planet so much that humanity may not survive. We are taking other species down with us—and entire ecosystems. This way of life may feel familiar to me, but it is not normal; it is destructive.

In order to stop the destruction and restore our habitat, we in the industrialized world will need to make changes in the way we do things. As you may have noticed, humans often resist change. But I hope we will be able to make the necessary shifts. Many of us think that the changes could bring about ways of living that are more vibrant, enjoyable, and meaningful than what we have now. (One encouraging scientific study of the logistics is "Mobilizing for a zero carbon America: Jobs, jobs, jobs, and more jobs," by Saul Griffith and Sam Calisch.) I believe that we can do it, if we work together, and if we do not leave humanity's future in the hands of the rich and powerful. I would like humans to continue to live and love and participate in the wonders of this astonishing planet. This piece is a small gesture in that direction.

Many thanks to Ann Shoemaker for test-driving this music and giving the premiere at Baylor University.

Deep thanks to the people and organizations working on many fronts to protect and renew human ecosystems. 

Duration app. 11-12 minutes