lunes, febrero 25, 2019

Electricity, molecules, and feelings

"Electricity is like the air which is vibrating during sound waves. (William Beaty)

In my piece Afterlife, a trumpet speaks “electricity language” playing in counterpoint with a neon lamp. It is difficult to say who is playing when. 

Most of my inspiration for this piece comes from hours of recordings I made with trumpet player Amy Horvey, back in 2005. Among other pieces for trumpet, I've just discovered the piece “Space is a Diamond” by Lucia Dlugoszewski, sort of written improvisation (thanks Edward Carroll for the score and the comments about the process of the piece!).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4Ayo8uiRmQ

I realized the sounds I wanted to use for my new piece were somehow very close to the sonorities that some modern improvisers use. For example, the research on whisper tones by Charlie Porter in his hotel room in the middle of the night are very poetic and good material for a composer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jztGQW7fml8  and the impro of Charmaine Lee with Nate Wooley is very intriguing music that I wish I had written. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0OHEAthpNQ

Music in boxes

In this post I
 am not talking about the differences between written music and improvisation, because I find it a kind of dusty topic, rather boring to me.
 Instead of putting music in boxes, I would like to discuss inspirations and common visions. 

Writing music has always been a slow process, certainly not a real-time thing, which generally needs at least two souls: the composer and the interpreter. My “musical instrument” has always been the paper and the pencil. This is the medium that makes me flow: organizing the listening from the inside out, in silent mode. I find that the instant when I write ideas on a paper is a performative act in itself, full of emotion and urgency, mental but somehow also physical.
Play me!


At a certain point in my process, I need to put "everything together" on paper. After my first sketch I exhaustively keep on refining that “initial impulse”. At the end of the composition process, the piece is going to be different from that initial sketch but not far from its spirit. 
For the improviser "that everything together" exists somehow in her or his headshaped by years of playing and reflecting upon that. We all, composers and improvisers, have structures and a sound repertoire. We merely solve things in other ways.

Mamarracho 1
For Morton Feldman the moment of composing on paper is a kind of performative writing. He uses an ink-pen in a slow process with full concentration: a way of being in the moment. 
For me it is more about the lines-mess (mamarracho), the speed of the pencil, the adrenaline. The pencil writes down the sounds coming from my mind, and my silent hearing follows the movement of the pencil on the paper in a wonderful counterpoint of drawing and mental singing.



Further down you can follow the sketch of my piece for trumpet and neon which motivated this post.


Mamarracho 2


Some facts about the piece:

 The piece lasts 9 minutes, but the drawing of the sketch took two hours.
 The drawing of the sketch required two hours but the research prior to it, months spread over years.
 The nine-minute sketch can be perceived "in a glance.
 ... extensive work will followworking with the trumpet player, refining techniques, reshaping the form and finding the right notation.


Electric trumpet

Writing for a lamp is not easy!
 Believe me! It is simpler to notate music for a string quartet than for an impulsive light that does something different every time. It isn´t easy either to write a score for a trumpet with an electricity complex!


like to think that composition is a very slow improvisation, crystallized in a single performative act that is the moment of the concert, unique and fresh as if it was self-originated.

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