martes, 26 de febrero de 2008

Desperate housewife

Oh, dear ! Why this sudden change of tone against Obama ? She's being hysterical !! Hey, senator Clinton, please remember : There ain't no secret for success, but there is ONE sure formula for failure : Trying to please everybody .
Unfortunately, we all take credit for all that we have done ....

And needless to say, Barack Obama is the first politician who could make me believe that YES, a politician could be someone who has morals and beliefs besides power and money . He won't have an easy job, resuscitating the United States after having the worst president in its history .

And ... he has a nice baritone voice ...

miércoles, 6 de febrero de 2008

"It takes a thief"

(a non-musical note about Rapsodia Nusantara no. 1)

For you who were born after 1980, you won't understand the title. It's the title of my favorite TV series starring Robert Wagner.

Now, so many of you young pianists who are playing my newest piano piece have asked "on which folksong did I base my Rapsodia Nusantara no. 1? Is it Jali-Jali ? Or Kicir-Kicir?" . The answer is : both . And my answer is "no" to the other frequently asked question "Do you use other themes beside those two folk-melodies?"

Now, you can read my previous entry about my choral piece "Jokpiniana" and hopefully it could help you understand my compositional method. You might also like to google "cubism" and see how it works in painting, because that's exactly what I am doing in many of my pieces. Picasso (and other cubist painters) always needed a model for his painting, and then they distorted the model. Well, now you get it, right ? I took those two folksongs, and I mixed them, distorted them, 'make them my own' so to say. "Good composers don't borrow, they steal", thus spake the great Stravinsky. I don't know if I am good, but I know that I steal.

So don't worry if you can't really "get" the tunes. You hear them, but you don't hear them. They are there, but they aren't there. I am writing my own music, not folksong arrangements. You can even play games with your colleagues, because sometimes I turn the original folk-tune upside down, and also reverse it : if you play a melody which doesn't really sound like the folksongs above, try to read it from right to left, perhaps you'd recognize it.

lunes, 4 de febrero de 2008

The Voice Inside me (can now be found in this book)

This was published last month, but I just got the photo of the cover a few days ago by email. It's the score of 25 vocal works by me, based on Indonesian poems by Goenawan Mohamad, Chendra Panatan, Sapardi Djoko Damono, Joko Pinurbo and Ilham Malayu. You can order it through Chendra my manager (whose poems can be found in this book as well) at or 0818 891038 if you live in Indonesia.

Some of the songs in this book (about 80 pages or so !) can be listened to at ; search under my name Ananda Sukarlan. All songs are with piano accompaniment (except two solo vocal pieces), and are for soprano, tenor and baritone solo and duets . It includes the song-cycles "Senyap Dalam Derai" (soprano & piano), "Gemuruhnya Malam" (baritone and piano), Canda Empat Penjuru (baritone & piano) as well as individual songs such as "my Aids song" Dalam Sakit for tenor & piano. All those beautiful poems are printed in the first few pages, and there are some program notes by me as well (mostly taken from this blog).

Lots of blogging today, eh ? Ok, ok ... back to writing my opera ...

More on Jokpiniana and its influences

ITB (the commissioner of my last choir piece, see my entry below) has asked me for more details of the work I just made for them. All I can say is that certainly it couldn't have existed without my fascination for cubism, which once in a while "appeared" in my works. What I did was, perhaps, translating the visual creative process of Picasso to music, therefore changing the concept "space" into "time". Living in Spain, I can't help admiring Picasso every day !

In "Jokpiniana", the way I use the motifs is by experimenting with its distortion, just what Picasso did with, e.g., Demoiselles d'Avignon, representing apparently solid objects as radically fragmented. This innovative approach broke down the components of the musical elements (originated from the poetic elements of Joko Pinurbo) into a number of individual facets, presenting several different aspects of one object (it could be a melody, or harmonic progression, or rhythmic pattern) from a variety of angles, simultaneously. I also juxtapose different, most of the time contrasting, moods (again, originating from several poems of contrasting moods) back to back with each other. What I want to repeat again and again, especially to those reporters and critics who always misunderstand my way of creative thinking, is that I am not just reading the poems word by word and make a melody out of it. I concentrate on the mood of the poem as a whole. Once I get the music, the words (or phrases) become (a little bit) less important. Nevertheless, I never use a phonetic element outside the poem : for example, the words "dang" and "dut" do exist IN the poem itself ! I just take it out and establish it as an independent element, treating it purely as sound and not as a word that has a meaning. I always consider a great poet as a great painter : they know how to choose the exact words for the "paint" as a material to create their picture. So, don't get me wrong : individual words are of primary importance for me in the beginning of the creative process, but they become secondary in the RESULT of the musical work. A great painting is not made with only primary colours, right ? Its greatness lies in how the painter mixes the colours, and how the result could express what he would like to communicate with the observer.

As I mentioned in the subtitle, Jokpiniana is an etude. The "real" manifestation of this technique I use in the opera I am writing now. Its duration is 70 minutes (plus break between the two acts), and I must say that this is an exciting experiment (whether it works or not, it's not really exciting ; it's terrifying for me ! That's why I keep on taking breaks from its composition, due to self-doubts, and write other short works). Its results have worked before in my pieces, so I hope it works again now !