David Soldier

A Soldier's Story (24'41")

David Soldier & Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut acted/narrated and wrote the story and lyrics for two CDs composed by Dave Soldier and conducted by Richard Auldon Clark: Ice-9 Ballads based the lyrics in Cat's Cradle, and A Soldier's Story, a radio opera about Eddie Slovik, the only American to be shot for cowardice since the Civil War.

Kurt was a proud secular humanist and typical responses to his passing seem out of place: we are gratified that he worked with us.

Pertinently, A Soldier's Story, in which he plays the lead acting role, addresses the human folly of war... and though a radio opera, has been turned down for (free) premiere or broadcast by every single radio show we sent it to ... we have posted it so that you can freely download and distribute it on mp3.

-- Dave Soldier

The People's Choice Music

1. The Most Wanted Song

A musical work that will be unavoidably and uncontrollably "liked" by 72 ± 12% of listeners

2. The Most Unwanted Song

Fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population will enjoy this

Purchase this CD at Mulatta Records.

With the collaboration of composer Dave Soldier, Komar & Melamid's Most Wanted Painting project was extended into the realm of music. A poll, written by Dave Soldier, was conducted on Dia's web site in Spring 1996. Approximately 500 visitor's took the survey. Dave Solder and Nina Mankin used the survey results to write music and lyrics for the Most Wanted and Most Unwanted songs.

Notes by the Composer

This survey confirms the hypothesis that today's popular music indeed provides an accurate estimate of the wishes of the vox populi. The most favored ensemble, determined from a rating by participants of their favorite instruments in combination, comprises a moderately sized group (three to ten instruments) consisting of guitar, piano, saxophone, bass, drums, violin, cello, synthesizer, with low male and female vocals singing in rock/r&b style. The favorite lyrics narrate a love story, and the favorite listening circumstance is at home. The only feature in lyric subjects that occurs in both most wanted and unwanted categories is "intellectual stimulation." Most participants desire music of moderate duration (approximately 5 minutes), moderate pitch range, moderate tempo, and moderate to loud volume, and display a profound dislike of the alternatives. If the survey provides an accurate analysis of these factors for the population, and assuming that the preference for each factor follows a Gaussian (i.e. bell-curve) distribution, the combination of these qualities, even to the point of sensory overload and stylistic discohesion, will result in a musical work that will be unavoidably and uncontrollably "liked" by 72 plus or minus 12% (standard deviation; Kolmogorov-Smirnov statistic) of listeners.

The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and "elevator" music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commericals and elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no covariance—someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator music as someone who despises the organ, for example—fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece.

Art for the people-
Your pal, Dave Soldier
June 1997


Composed by Dave Soldier
Lyrics by Nina Mankin
Executive Producer: Charles Simonyi
Produced by Jane Bausman
Recorded by Rory Young at Big House Studios and Acme Recording Studio
Featuring Vernon Reid On Guitar

The Most Wanted Song:
Female vocal: Ada Dyer
Male vocal: Ronnie Gent
Guitar: Vernon Reid
Saxophone: Andy Snitzer
Cello: Lisa Haney
Keyboards/violin/drums: Dave Soldier
Additional drums: Rory Young
Bass drum: Komar & Melamid

The Most Unwanted Song:
Soprano: Dina Emerson
Speaking vocal: Nina Mankin
Children: Emma Ensign, Kate Polsky, Max Polsky
Piccolo/flute: Elissa Kleeman
Harmonica: Wade Schuman
Bagpipe: David Watson
Accordion: Yuri Lemeshev
Harp: Margerie Fitts
Organ: Mary Bopp
Banjo: Dave Soldier
Tuba: David Grego
Percussion: Christine Bard
Bass drum: Komar & Melamid
Conductor: Norman Yamada


Dave Soldier played violin in Western swing bands and guitar in rhythm and blues groups, including Bo Diddley, and studied composition with Roscoe Mitchell before moving to New York City in the early 80's, where he studied composing privately with Otto Luening. He founded the seminal punk chamber group the Soldier String Quartet (1985), and punk Delta blues band the Kropotkins (1992), the first orchestra for animals, the Thai Elephant Orchestra (Lampang, 2000), the Andalusian dance band The Spinozas (2004), and Da Hiphop Raskalz, in which 5-10 year olds in East Harlem write and play their own compositions (2004).

In addition to the repertoire for the above perorming groups, Soldier's compositions include The People's Choice Music: The Most Wanted and Unwanted Songs, following poll results of likes and dislikes of the American population, in collaboration with the Russian expatriate artists Komar & Melamid; collaborations with Kurt Vonnegut; repertoire for musically na•ve children or performed on specially designed instruments by songbirds and pygmy chimpanzees; various song cycles/oratorios/operas; arrangements for many pop groups including John Cale, David Byrne, and Guided by Voices, and TV and film soundtracks, including I Shot Andy Warhol and Sesame Street. Soldier's Symphony #1 was recently recorded by the Thai Elephant Orchestra.

Visit Dave Soldier's homepage for more information