"SM17" brings attention to the political, economic, and social impacts of rare earth elements, taking it's gestural and musical form from the aspects of these chemical elements themselves. The piece can be performed as a fixed media concert piece, a concert piece for solo speaker (alto) and fixed media, or as a radiophonic piece.
In its brevity, "SM17" focuses on the complexity of the theme (political, economic, and social impacts of rare earth elements). Above all, the often conflicting and sometimes polar aspects of the rare earths is translated into musical/aesthetic attributes such as high/low, beautiful/ugly, male/female, quiet/loud, and useful/deleterious.
The three "protagonists" of the piece are two voices (a human voice and a computer-generated voice) and a constant, untamable feedback loop, which is created through the distortion of a single sine wave audio signal. The text is based on the names of the rare earth elements, some typical uses, a few problems resulting from their exploitation. The feedback loop takes place within a modified algorithm which was originally developed by Stephan Schmitt for his "Phase 22" software synthesis instrument. Despite careful parameter adjustments, the feedback loop is not entirely controllable.