Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On the text

So, I promised to write a little about the text of my piece, and how I found it. The best way to introduce this is probably to show part of what I'm doing with it.

Beyond the meaning, inherent rhythm, or accent patterns of the text, for this piece I was interested in the semi-random arrangements of sounds, coming and going, returning or being abandoned for a while, that show up in any text. (In general, I like these semi-random processes, that are the result of systems and mechanisms, but as by-products, not as their main point; think of the random motions inside a typewriter, ... or, for that matter, those inside a piano.)

So, for example, the first line of the poem: Aquel que al verme, has sounds a-k-e-l-k-e-a-l. Only four sounds. "k" always followed by "e", "a" and "l" as appendices. Imagine "a" as an introduction to a statement ("k-e"), after which a rebound ("l") fades out. Then a pause, and according to the text the statement is then re-stated ("que"), and the other motives close off ("al"). A non-trivial unit of discourse!

And then the poem continues, after "verme" (variations on the k-e theme, with the predominance of the "e" motive), with "supuso mi paso". This is a whole new soundworld: the s-p-s interplay takes over, the e has disappeared for a little.

This is the kind of process I wanted for the piece. I had some texts in mind, that I've wanted to set to new works for a while, but somehow they didn't fit this idea as much. They were either too long (imagine a long poem set with every letter being a motive), or too meaningful, so that the references of its meaning would be too weighty to allow my very autonomous handling.

So I called my brother, who knows a lot about poetry. Who, what period, should I look into? As I was trying to explain what I needed, he offered several suggestions, but each had something that didn't appeal to me. Little by little we defined what it was I was looking for, and when he thought he had understood---wanting to confirm---he said: "oh, something like 'aquel que al verme...'"

---Yes, yes, something like that, let me see, let's write it down... Wow, this works, and, here, this is great, wow! What was it? "no supo", or "ignoraba"?
---Oh, it was "ignoraba", but "no supo" makes more sense, with the reference to "supuso"

And so on. After that conversation I knew the piece was coming along.

An update: today I finished the score of the "Festive Fugue" for Ryan Ross. I look forward to this!

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