martes, 18 de marzo de 2008

Accents in Silence

We had a rehearsal with the ITB Choir last Sunday the 16th with my piece they commissioned, "Jokpiniana no. 1". It was great fun (except for the bloody traffic jam on the way to the rehearsal) and everybody learned a lot (oh, well, I hope THEY did, because I really did. Every rehearsal of my music is like looking at the mirror & knowing myself better).

The ITB-Choir consists of mostly amateur musicians, but their dedication to music and the way they work surpasses most of the "professional" (classical-) musicians in Indonesia. Its director, Indra Listiyanto is doing a great job in developing the choir, and their contribution to Indonesian classical music is invaluable.

Now, I can spot some weakness in my music. Unfortunately I will have to humbly tell these things to those of you who are playing my music, so that you can make my music better than it really is ! Certainly I am not Mozart whose music can survive in any conditions. So, these are the most "vulnerable" elements in my music (especially the choral ones) :

1. Speed. Remember the film "Top Gun" ? I feel the need, the need ... for speed !! Sometimes I write heart-pounding speeds in my music ; without it, the rhythms and "drive" would become quite sissy and soft. There is this element of "macho"-ness that could be lost when one performs it in lesser velocity than I indicated in the score. So, commander, set to Warp Speed 9 and ... ENERGIZE !!! Let's boldly go where no man has gone before !

2. "Just do it", or "Don't even think about it". Now, those speeds are scary (especially with so many rhythmic problems going on !), but once you set the speed DO NOT SLOW DOWN. Imagine a moving bullet or airplane, you know what happens, right, when it slows down ? One should maintain it ABSO-bloody-LUTELY strict (check it perhaps with a metronome?). Just think that you are Sandra Bullock driving that bus in the film "Speed" : if you slow down, then ... tick, tock, tick, tock .... BOOM !!

3. The highly dangerous silences on down (or strong)-beats. Those syncopes, I mean. This makes any performer enter rather late in hitting the note afterwards, especially in that speed. The trick of doing it is giving oneself an imaginary accent in those silent down-beats, as if a note (and a fortissimo one !) existed in that strong-beat silence. Don't take a breath in those silences, otherwise it is guaranteed that you will sing that next note later than it should be.

Anyway, especially for Jokpiniana no. 1, perhaps the secret of its successful performance can be resumed in two words : FUN and FUNKY.

I write my music in the beginning of the 21th century, and I hope it reflects and expresses our contemporary situation : bitterly ironic, rushing everywhere, highly anxious, agressive, and .... unfortunately still very much macho-dominated (no matter what Hillary Clinton declares to earn votes from as many women as possible). But I am a highly optimistic person (and composer), so no matter how bleak things look like outside, life is still fun and funky for me. Certainly, some 80% of my music (including Jokpiniana no.1) has a male character. No offense to the ladies, it's just how my music turns out after I composed it ... I couldn't help it myself !!