Performance of solo composition
This is the first performance of a semi-improvised solo composition I made using a selectin of the ideas I have developed through improvisation earlier. Also first time with full 16 channel stage setup, organized as 12 acoustic transducer instruments hanging from the ceiling centered around a grand piano, with four speakers placed in the corners of the room. This was a kind of dress rehearsal to see if the setup would work, and how it would feel (and sound!). Performance wise, though some parts and transitions work very well, others still lack detail and time to develop properly. But what is more important, all the technical and practical things are working well now so finally I can really start focussing and working on the musical content.
The piece consists of five main parts. In this performance, I chose to start with something abstract – a pure sine tone, like a carrier wave that gradually starts living and from which legible speech grows forth. The five parts then explore different aspects of time perception, different kinds of speech genres, and different musical ideas, orchestrations and soundscapes (time in video as indicated):
Part 1: LINES (00:00)
Time concept: forward motion through a continuous stream of speech.
Source material / speech genre: social interaction in reality-TV.
Soundscape: Speaker mediated speech is abstracted and moved to acoustic instruments, different rhythmical layers (syllables, accents, stress, phrases) orchestrated out to organ and stringed instruments, more and more stylized like musical figures (smoothing tempo, pitch and adding diminutions and augmentations), before returning to the free flow of continuous speech.
Part 2: DIALOGUE (07:34)
Time concept: accentuated present, interaction between performer and machine, between music and speech.
Source material / speech genre: paralanguage and telephone conversations.
Soundscape: Live acoustic piano against speaker mediated speech. Develops from interactive dialogue through musical association to polyphonic texture: a crowd where each individual voice disappears. The crowd is then drawn out and abstracted as a frozen time chordal texture.
Part 3: SPACE (14:12)
Time concept: static, stationary.
Source material / speech genre: intimate thoughtful conversations.
Soundscape: Sparsely orchestrated parts across the room, blending both speech recordings, synthesized sound and acoustic instrument in a wide open soundscape.
Part 4: RHYTHM (19:15)
Time concept: repetitive.
Source material / speech genre: representative, non-personal radio broadcasts.
Soundscape: acoustic drums. Isolated similar syllables makes a rhythmic web accompanied by a metronome measuring the mean pulse. Switching between repetitions and narration and gradually adding more and more subdivisions it develops and culminates into a dense distorted electroacoustic soundscape, a raw mass of sound that stripped of any resemblance with speech still conveys some phrasal gestures.
Part 5: PAUSES (24:45)
Time concept: the gaps between utterances.
Source material / speech genres: dignified official speech from a head of state to its citizens, characterized by the downwards melodic finality of each statement and the long pauses between them.
Soundscape: spatial arpeggii in acoustic cymbals fills in and sets music to the pauses, articulating the gaps between utterances and their imprint on the aural memory. The sound of a gong and the dark drone background adds to the ritual character of this speech genre.