Made of Wholes, Holes and Vacuum
for viola, flute, horn, double bass and percussion
As the title might suggest, this piece is an investigation into two forms of performative, structural and sonic extremes: everything – the whole – and nothing, the hole or vacuum. It is an attempt to think various forms of totality and their respective antipodes through musical and performative materials.
What could be wholeness in music? In a performative context, I tried to construct a sense of wholeness by decoupling the physical strata of sound production and and think of them as spatial containers, that can be filled with action. For example, every stroke of the double-bass or viola incorporates the whole bow from the frog to the tip, regardless of duration or technique. An extreme example: over the whole course of the piece, the viola plays one single down-bow with heavy overpressure, resulting in a steady repetitive click. The same accounts for the breath of the flute, horn and some percussion instruments or the fingerings of the flute (all of the fingerings in the score always use all the fingers of the flutist simultaneously). Over the course of the piece, durations gradually become shorter and longer, creating awkward and paradoxical situations, where e.g. a whole breath could be either too much or not enough to perform a specific action properly.
In rethinking the nothingness of silence (the not-nothingness or non-intentionality of Cage), I tried to construct holeness as something, that is definable and locatable but obviously marking something as absent, leaving behind a lack of something (a certain sound or action). For example: playing so slow or with so few air that the instrument is not activated and no sound is being produced or preparing yourself to play but remaining in that position without doing anything. These actions create an expectation for something to happen (a musical articulation). Not fulfilling this expectation marks an absence, that is not nothing but an absent something within a present frame or on a present surface (a whole, not a vacuum).
Over the course of the piece different degrees of wholeness and nothingness or hole-ness are explored.
Made of Wholes, Holes and Vacuum was realized within a project of the HMDK Stuttgart with Ensemble Musikfabrik
Viola – Axel Porath
Flute – Helen Bledsoe
Horn – Christine Chapman
Double Bass – Michinori Bunya
Percussion – Rie Watanabe