for four percussionists dedicated to Carmelo Saitta 1st Prize Concurso de composición CEAMC 1997
La madre del río/the mother of the river is based on the ideas of Carmelo Saitta, who conceives the percussion-set as a full orchestra. He organizes percussion instruments and props in groups and families attending its acoustical properties. La madre del río is an anti-percussive piece mostly composed with long sustained sounds with a soft attack, played with the hands, fingers and nails. A set of wine glasses conforms a crystal orchestra tuned in quarter tones which plays together with a glissing vibraphone. Many other instruments in La madre del río are distorted by the literal use of water, which filters their sounds, producing quasi electronic sounds without electronics. The piece is based on the Argentine popular story La madre del río which talks about the reflection of a mythological character on the rivers and her self-destructive power when in contact with men.
“Nobody has ever seen the Majuy Mama. There were those who saw the reflection of her hair as she sank in the Argentinean northern rivers. Some say she is a river mermaid. Others speak about a hen that sinks with its chicks or a black horse in the mountain rivers whose long tail can be seen. When she is a mermaid, she bathes in the rivers and wraps with her hair the fish that she loves the most. If a man sees her, he absorbs all of a sudden her complete happiness. The Majuy Mama, in excruciating pain, raises waves with her tail, and bumping herself against the stones, disappears in the deep waters. The happiness of some is the sadness of others.”
Cuarteto is inspired by the Sederunt Principes by Perotin, a four-voice chant setting (organum quadruplum) composed in the XIII century. Sederunt Principes is presumably the first polyphonic composition for four voices, where colorful textures and ingenious motivic games come together at the end of every phrase. This phrasing in arcs was a conventional technique in the late medieval polyphony, rooted in the Gregorian chant, reminding the pillars of Gothic cathedrals. Cuarteto utilizes vocal techniques from the XX avant-garde inspired on the exuberance of this pioneering masterpiece from the Middle Ages. It also addresses its arc form. Both pieces, Cuarteto and the Sederunt Principes, even with a completely different outcome, share similar composition technics and a close spirit.
Casi cerca / Almost close is based on the idea of suggestion rather than revelation. The music operates in the outer limits of perception; events are sensed rather than clearly perceived. Contour prevails over detail, the respiration of music is whispered. The narrow dynamic range, the restricted instrumental timbre, and the blurred effect of the rhythmical combinations aim at creating music that is slightly ‘out of focus.’ Melodies are masked, melos being more important than the melody itself. Casi cerca is related to something possible to perceive but impossible to touch, impossible to see, impossible to hear. The word “casi” (almost) represents the fragile line that divides things that are close, completely apart.
for soprano, baritone, flute, trombone y percussion
Canciones is based on the idea of singing instead of song, melos instead of melody. Even though the act of singing is ceaseless, the songs themselves are never defined. Singers and wind instruments sing a song without song. Melodies are invisible threads that flow as the reminiscence of a song, the memory of something that never existed.
Around music #1 (2006) for alto flute, trumpet, violoncello, percussion and piano commissioned by Stichting Perpetuumm
Around music #2 (2006/rev. 2018) for alto flute, electric guitar, cello, piano and percussion new version commissioned by New Maker ensemble
“What is for the eye must not duplicate what is for the ear” “The eye solicited alone makes the ear impatient, the ear solicited alone, makes the eye impatient. Use these impatiences. ”. Robert Bresson
Around music attempts to be a philosophical-humoristic reflection about the rituals of modern music and the concert situations. Actions related to the practice of music like counting, failing, facing technical difficulties, repeating or dropping instruments are the new musical material for this piece, written in a score. Around music is music to be heard, music to be seen.
Program notes Around Music#2 by New Maker Ensemble (July 2019)
Terms such as “absolute music”, or “abstract music” can be seen as dialectical responses to major philosophical systems, which were influential in central Europe during the mid 19th century. Music – in these people’s minds – should therefore be an art form, free and independent from everything else. It should only respond to its own laws and, for bearing an essentially pure and formally perfect nature, any produced discourse would prove incorruptible. The interest of any musician subscribing to this thought ghetto, should, above all, in the abatement and suppression of any noise, sonic and visual, but also semantic and political. At the moment each piece finds itself realized, only that which most resembles the imagined formal ideal must survive! However, in each concert, there always happens a number of things which are not music in those terms. People have solely learned how to ignore them. New Maker Ensemble, London July 2019 http://www.nmensemble.com/sistema-concert.html
Sistema Project If we think a system is a cohesive form of a group of inter-related elements, then, depending on the temporal and spatial framing, anything can be a system! These types of considerations have been a focal point in the culture of production, conception and critique of the New Maker Ensemble. This time, Sistema (system) has served as a starting point for all the work developed in this project, from the new music program to the complementary educational activities. The way we challenged the various creators, we also challenge you to think of systems: where are they? how are they created? how are they useful? how do they work? what do they tell us? how do they constitute themselves? what are they made of? how do they manifest themselves? what do they produce? how complex or simple are they? how do they evolve? what direction do they have? how are they part of us? what autonomy do they have? how are we part of them? etc.
for violin, trombone, piano, radio, cassette player and a rocking chair commissioned by NFPK, Holland
There are three people sitting in a room; they are just staying but also remembering the past and dreaming about the future all at the same time. It is always difficult to say what now and here means because our hearts gets always confused about organizing emotions on a timeline.
Koen rewinds, anticipates and plays the cassette player as a metaphor of past (and future?) memories. Bas plays a radio that catches the air in an ever-flowing present. Nora moves back and forth from the piano in a rocking chair, looped in her own clock.
Music is a powerful time machine, traveling through chronologically organized sounds, but mainly through the mixed archeology of our emotions.
mini piano theater for piano, tapes, three lights and an optional mirror comissioned by Festival Música contemporánea Palma de Mallorca
When I was a child my father had built a door in the yard of my apartment with the lid of an old washing machine. Once through it, the little door led to a parallel yard –which in fact was the same one. In appearance the yard was alike, but if one paid attention, the same things started behaving in a strange, a rather magical way. The drawing of the tiles had the power to hypnotize you, and the insects from the plants could read your mind. Not to mention the effect if my mother showed up with a snack… she terrified me because I thought she was a “double”. I only could stay for a few seconds in that parallel world and then, running and scared to death, went through the little door back to the “authentic yard” to have a snack with my real mum. While I was composing Gespleten piano, I remembered this story from my childhood because in this piece there are real objects and their duplicates. A mirror duplicates the visual space, the cassette players emulate the aural space. There are also extra-musical “twin” objects. I like to think that in the game of the piece it is not clear which is the original and which is the copy.
Lately, I like to explain my music through anecdotes because they are as confusing as the program notes but they are more easy-going.
Cuando era chica mi papá había construido una puertita de chapa con la tapa de un viejo lavarropas, en el patio de mi departamento. Una vez atravesada, la mini puerta te conducía a un patio paralelo – que en realidad era el mismo. En apariencia era un patio igual, pero si uno prestaba atención las cosas se comportaban de una manera extraña, casi mágica. El dibujo de las baldosas, por ejemplo, te hipnotizaba y los bichitos de las plantas te leían la mente. Ni que decir si aparecía mi mamá con la leche… me aterrorizaba porque pensaba que era una doble. Solo me podía quedar unos instantes en ese mundo paralelo y luego, corriendo y muerta de miedo, a través de la puertita volvía al patio “de verdad” para tomar la leche con mi mamá real.
Mientras componía Gespleten piano recordé esta anécdota de mi infancia, ya que en mi obra hay dos realidades paralelas: los objetos reales y sus dobles. El espejo repite el espacio visual, los grabadores de cinta duplican el espacio auditivo. También hay objetos gemelos extra musicales Me gusta pensar que en el juego de la obra, no se sabe cuál es la copia y cuál es el original. Me gusta explicar mis obras con anécdotas, porque al igual que las notas de programa, son confusas. Pero son más llevaderas.