Tyler Futrell studied primarily with Bent Sørensen at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Michael Jarrell at the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna, and Lee Hyla at the New England Conservatory. Since moving to Norway in 2010, his music has been presented by festivals such as ULTIMA, Borealis, Ilios, Grønland Kammermusikkfestival, and the concert series Avgarde.
Man Is Exhaled Breath takes its name from the psalm it uses for text in the first movement:
Homo vanitati similis factus est; dies eius sicut umbra prætereunt.
(Man is like exhaled breath; his days pass away like shadow.)
A similar text is used in the second movement:
Quia defecerunt sicut fumus, dies mei: et ossa mea sicut gremium aruerunt.
(For my days have vanished as smoke; and my bones are withered as a dry, burnt thing.)
Dona nobis pacem.
(Grant us peace.)
The texts allude to the temporary nature of any particular life, however they embody in their history the longer timeframe of culture – and it is in part to the long tradition of music sharing the same texts that Man Is Exhaled Breath relates. The use of space, for example, echoes Gabrieli’s at San Marco Basilica, the site where he developed the Venetian polychoral style to its height, using alternating choirs to enhance the texts’ dialogic aspects. This piece alternates between music relating to that 16th century music, and music which looks at the instruments and space from a 21st century perspective, making Man a dialogue between regions of both space and (as most music is) time.