So far, historic quotations by Ravel, and my own ideas, have gone through a large number of distortions to create new musical ideas. The Intermezzi variations are also such distortions and reinterpretations, of the original 16 Intermezzi fragments.
The original Intermezzi quotations (numberings were changed from 17 to 16 during the process) were typed into Open Music, with MIDI channel numbers representing types of vocal sonorities, an attempt to maintain original sonorities. This music deals with timbre, just as much as with pitch. 1-6 selected fragments were superposed for further transformations, for hybrids of existing Intermezzi fragments.
Multiple fragments were either simply joined into 5 voices, or ’granulated’ like many of the above mentioned Ravel manipulations.
Further transformations used the same patch as for Ravel transformations, except that approximations to microtonal tuning systems were skipped. Only 1/4-tones or 1/8-tones would be practical for a live performance. A time-pointer, scaling to inversion, pitchshifting and time-scaling could create an endless number of variations from a limited material, filtered to stay inside the practical vocal range for Song Circus.
A chain of filters removed melodic octaves and last notes of unwanted triads.1
While Intermezzi fragments were composed by rearranging fragments of an old piece, the Intermezzi varitions were composed interpreting the computers distortions of the materials. We will look at an example, where vocal timbres from the source tones are represented as coloured MIDI channel numbers (1 means normal tone).
The score was exported for interpretation. Voices were reordered to better fit the vocal ranges. Notes and rhythms can be recognized, while intonations were changed, passages were simplified, searching for harmonic and melodic situations I found more satisfactory.
A1, measure 1: A 1/4-tone interference to the note of M can give a more focussed harmonic situation. And the possible E major third will be avoided, replaced by the 3/4-tone interval I have often preferred to halftones in my music.
S2, measure 2: I preferred a 1/4-tone melodic interval to the more familiar halftone, and it could extend harmonically as S1 stays on bb'.
S1, measure 8: Lowering the f#'' by a 1/4-tone helps avoiding a D major association, through a 'neutral third'.
S2, measure 8: The high g' is approximated upwards, as a 'neutral third' is preferred to a minor third against A1.
Example 74: AX Intermezzi Variation 1
It was always necessary to try everything out with my own voice, to see whether the timbral transitions made sense physically in a particular speed.
Compositional rules are not explicitly formulated, the comparisons above can help finding principles behind my choices. It's an example of how raw materials often are not sufficient by themselves, but trigger sets of musical choices.
Through his studies of Boulez, Erling E. Guldbrandsen added nuances to a understanding of musical structure and techniques during the composition process:
"This compositional method could primary be called pragmatic. With a given musical material, Boulez is prepared to use it for his purposes, that is new purposes, obviously without the slightest worry for the internal,structural logics, which contributed to generating the materials. It is not at all a question about one work controlled by one basic stucture, one series, one formula, in order to form musical coherence."2
Finnegans wake was a main text through Landscape with figures II, improvisations and recordings. I used a text by Demian Vitanza for the Intermezzi variation fragments.3
Shhh, shhh shhh/she says...
shhh, shhh, shhh/she sings away silence/sings away death/thinking too much/she sings/sickness/sadness/sucks out her soul
Shhh, Shhh, Shhh/she sings/
Silence is death/thinking too much/she says/
Silence would kill her, would kill me.
Go on and kill me.
Go on and sing me.
Sing me and sing me, sing away silence.
Silence chokes my lungs, my soul.
Like worms eat guts.
At dawn of silence.
Death of sound.
When I stop singing, talking, thinking, walking, whispering, shouting, I'll be gone, ding dong dead, gone where? Mum? Dad? Song? Dead? Gone? Just gone? Just dead? How dead? How gone? Like sound is gone from silence?
My vocal chord is a highway full of traffic.
This walls, these words, regurgitating. ”
1 Not included in the public Ruben-OM library.
2 Our translation, the original: "Denne kompositoriske fremgangsmåten må først of fremst kunne kalles pragmatisk. Når et gitt musikalsk stoff foreligger, er Boulez i rede til å bruke det til sine formål, dvs. til nye formål, åpenbart uten den ringeste bekymring for den interne, strukturelle logikken som i sin tid bidro til at stoffet ble generert. Det er overhodet ikke tale om at ett verk må være styrt av én grunnstruktur, én serie, én formel, for at det skal kunne henge sammen musikalsk." Guldbrandsen, 1997, Acta Humaniora, 23, p. 436.
3 The text was written as part of a collaboration at a librettist academy 11th to 13th of october 2012, organized by Bergen nasjonale opera, AdOpera Utvikling and Dramatikkens hus.
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