jueves, 30 de septiembre de 2010

Vega and Altair (again)

Vega and Altair is approaching the end of its creative process. The more I am immersed in it deeply the more I am attracted to the combination of instruments : 1 plucked strings, 2 bowed stings and one flute. I must say I did miss at some points my favorite string instrument : the viola. So there are a couple of lyrical passages where the cello was playing the role of the viola, uttering warmly in its register. I just adore Debussy's Trio for flute, viola and harp and hope I can write for that kinda trio someday. It's not a perfect combination of instruments, but Debussy made it perfect.
One funny thing communicating with Katryna the harpist is the terminology of "1960s style". I then realized that Singapore, in spite of its developed economic situation, is just like Indonesia or other Asian countries. You see, the Europeans now use the term "1960s" for that crazy avant-garde music, which in fact is now practically non-existing (at least in the "real" world of music, though still in small "ghettos" of "artists"). What I mean non-existing is that nobody writes that kind of thing now, and the works from that period are very seldomly performed, only in educational concerts where we want to hear "history", not real music. While in a few countries in Asia (Singapore I guess is excluded) at this moment we are still in awe with the aleatoric and heavily serialistic (what's the diff? They both sound the same, eh) music of John Cage and Stockhausen are considered the hippest thing around. Yes, those crazy stuff from the ... 1960s! It is still, as I heard, existing in the academic world in the USA, and composers of the faculties of music there still write that kinda thing. So in spite of this "global communication" bla bla bla, the artistic perceptions are still very different, and even the time machine is not working for this. Oh and I heard from Chendra, the choreographer I always work with, that that "1960s" style in dance is called "post-modern". Well that's totally nuts. What was the modern one, then?? While in music, "postmodernism" is labelled to those kind of music that has surpassed the "1960s" stuff. You know, Arvo Part, John Rutter, Peter Sculthorpe, David del Puerto are "postmodern". I guess my music can be labelled with that too. In short, European music is living in a postmodern period where styles are all mixed.

Talking about dance, I also think very intensely in terms of choreography while writing music, including Vega & Altair. Certainly it's Chendra's influence that I tend to connect my music with dance. I read somewhere that at some point of his life Stravinsky also had the same attitude, due to his continuous collaboration and conversations with Diaghilev. And I tell you, it has helped me a lot, like in the section where the 7 angels descended from the sky to bath in the lake. Inevitably I had to think of 7 different characters, so I had to invent my own description of each of them. I then used the 4 temperaments (were they invented by the Greek physicist Hippocrates?) of sanguinic, phlegmatic, melancholic and choleric. I still needed three more, and of course one of them is simply "the most beautiful of them all" since she is the one who the cowherd fall in love with.

The total duration of "Vega and Altair" is about 20 minutes of music, but as the musicians move around in the end (again, it is my choreographic thoughts that constructed the music based on space) plus the rests between the movements it might last more than that. The number 7 is also the base of many things : at several points I am using a 7-note scale (4 of which are 4 notes of the pentatonic scale I use in other sections, so those 2 scales can interact smoothly with those 4 notes acting as a "bridge"). Sometimes I use it as a tone-row and work with the Schoenbergian method with it. It is also in 7 movements : Prelude, The 7 Angels, Stealing for Love, Vega & Altair's Love Song (only for flute & harp), The Wrath of the Queen (or the Creation of the Celestial River? I haven't made up my mind with the title. Anyway, it's for the 2 string instruments and harp; the flute doesn't play here since it doesn't fit with the dark character of this movement), The Lyre of the Lonely Lovers (for harp solo) and the Epilogue.