The spirit of the piece derives from its title, which was selected before a single note was written. It is quite obviously a play on the given name of the dedicatee, Alex Van Dyke. Notable in the piece is a prominent part for the page turner, who is called upon to perform many of the special effects in the work. A spirit of jocularity and humor pervades Smart Alex in the composer's attempt to make a piece that is fun for both performers and audience. The theatrical elements employed add to the brash 'smart alecky'spirit of the work.
The composer, David DeBoor Canfield felt that a divagation from his usual freely tonal style was warranted in this work, in which he sought to bring in advanced techniques and special effects, all within a pronounced atonal context. Nevertheless, hints of tonality appear from time to time, often in a humorous context.
The work is one movement, approximately 6.5 minutes.
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