May 10 2009
Performance requires stopwatch monitor on stage and optional live-delay
No. 27b Structure VIb (2005)
Version for female voices, organ and male drone
Commissioned by: Asko Kamerkoor with financial support from the Netherlands Fund for the Performing Arts
Structure VIb is part of a six-hour-long series of works, written in 2005, which deal with aspects of infinity and variable color-change. Subdivided into five size- and topic-related sets, the works can be performed individually or within a sequence and can be played by any set-up including electrical instruments and ranging from small chamber ensembles to large orchestras, with or without live-delay. The music is entirely notated according to the technique of 'available pitches': a technique in which a gamut of pitches is notated within time-segments and the musicians are left free to choose both pitch as well as entry.
In an attempt to create a perception of time, which is both timeless as well as tangible, each interval is linked to a set time-length (mostly based on multiplications of a minor second, but sometimes itself variable too) so that the distance of each traversed interval finds a natural correspondence in the time necessary to overlap it. Together with the flexibility of the individual entries this helps create an environment in which formal rigidity and personal freedom can co-exist and sound itself serve as the main protagonist.
The musicians all have one primary sound source (basically, straight tones), but should alternate this sporadically with a second sound source or dynamic curve. The sounds can then be channeled through a relatively simple form of electronic delay, from which the attacks have been removed. The delay basically serves as an extra acoustic space, reflecting upon what the musicians have played and, in return, serving as a source for the musicians to respond to.
One of the non-musical inspirations for the series of Structures was based on a paper by Roger Penrose, which he wrote in 1965 and which uses topological ideas to describe how a very massive object can collapse to a point, virtually get crushed under its own weight. When this happens, the outcome is a black hole. Penrose proved that there lies a point like no other at the very center of a black hole. This point is a space-time singularity. Here, the curvature is infinite and time ceases to exist. To an imaginary observer (of course, this would be totally impossible in reality) anybody falling into a black hole would seem to be freezing on the surface for ever and would never be aware of this state of being. This image of freezing and timelessness seemed appropriate to the inherent laws of these pieces as well.
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