swrd

1999-01; dur: 15′; Sopr, perc, cd player,
sampler with bad microphone; Score at nb.no

Programme note:

“swrd” is a piece which winds into itself in continued attempts to break free of that which is traditionally considered to be musically meaningful. The compositional process may be described thus: textual units were derived from English proverbs centred on the words ‘still’, ‘waters’, ‘run’, and ‘deep’. These words were recorded and subsequently coded into midi-signals, and thereafter subjected to a destructive feedback process; the result is a piece which bites its own tail and crumbles into indistinct remnants of itself. The words were then added again, giving the composition new direction; now the piece may be seen to focus on two main issues: the first deals with the boundary between spoken language and music, and the second issue highlights the conflict inherent in the process of reducing the level of communication. Is it possible to say that the textual element crushes the music’s desire for narrative gesture? Will the text become meaningful? The acoustic role of the musicians in a concert performance of this piece is problematical and anti-communicative, in stark contrast to the electronic, predefined part. The vocal part is reduced to text fragments sung in unidiomatic registers. The percussionist plays interrupted, dense, inaccessible patterns in which individual elements drown each other and the singer’s attempts to be heard. This situation may seem unresolved, but there is some release offered by the electronic part, in which the text and the harmonic element are clearer. In addition, the electronic part transcends at certain points the boundary of what generally could be considered as intended music. (Translation: Andrew Smith)

“swrd” is dedicated to Ellen Aagaard and Kai Hansen who also participate on the tape part together with Jonatan E. Aagaard, Teodor E. Aagaard, Natasha Barrett and the composer. “swrd” was composed in 1999 and 2001 and was commissioned by NICEM. The first performance took place on 27 May 2001 in Bergen during the Music Factory festival. The piece was selected for the Gaudeamus Week in 2002.

Practical information:

The three tape parts should be played from a CD player. One additional section, as mentioned in the score, is recorded live during the performance and is played back at the end of the piece. This is easily done with a sampler with large capacity. The microphone used for the recording sould be of very low quality to make an large audible distance to the acoustic performance. An equalizer could also be used to make the same effect. The sound quality should be centred around high middle frequencies and with as little bottom as possible. It should be possible for the singer to handle the electronics on the stage, but a sound technician could also be used.

Percussion instruments:

The set up should be organized with the following grouping of instruments:

section A: bass drum with foot pedal, large tom-tom, woodblock, 3 different crash cymbals, regular cymbal, marimba.

section B: foot pedal on mounted metal sheet or oil tank, medium tom-tom, snare drum with snare, vibraphone with motor, large hanging metal rods with a clear pitch in c#, d, d#, e, and f#, hanging metal sheet.

Programme note in Norwegian:

“swrd” er et stykke som spinner inn i selv i stadige forsøk på å løsrive seg fra det vi tradisjonelt opplever som musikalsk meningsbærende. Komposisjonsprosessen kan beskrives slik: Tekstlige enheter er hentet fra engelske ordtak som kretser rundt ordene ‘still’, ‘waters’, ‘run’ og ‘deep’. Disse ordene ble lest inn og kodet om til midisignaler for deretter å bli kastet inn i en destruktiv feedbackprosess; noe som gjør at stykket biter seg selv i halen og smuldrer hen til vage rester av seg selv. Ordene ble tilsatt igjen, og dette førte til at komposisjonen fikk en ny vending; nå kan stykket oppleves å dreie seg om to ting: Det ene er grensen mellom uttalt språk og musikk; det andre er konflikten som ligger i det å reduksjonere formidlingen. Kan man kanskje si at det tekstlige elementet knuser musikkens trang til narrativ gestikk? Blir teksten i så fall meningsbærende? Musikernes akustiske rolle i det som framføres i konsertsammenheng befinner seg i en anti-formidlingssituasjon som er veldig problematisk, og som gir en sterk kontrast til den elektroniske, predefinerte delen. Sangerens rolle er kuttet ned til fragmenter av det tekstlige i uidiomatiske registre. Slagverkeren spiller avbrudte, fortettede og uoppnåelige gester hvor enkeltelementene drukner hverandre og også sangerens forsøk på å trenge igjennom. Denne situasjonen kan oppleves uforløst, men den får likevel et slags utløp i den elektroniske delen hvor teksten og det harmoniske kommer klarere fram. Den elektroniske delen bryter i tillegg på visse punkter ut av grensene for hva som er ment musikk. Dette er forøvrig et stykke som går stille i dørene.

“swrd” er dedikert til Ellen Aagaarde og Kai Hanssen som også medvirker på tape-delen i tillegg til Jonatan E. Aagaard, Teodor E. Aagaard, Natasha Barrett og undertegnede. Stykket ble komponert i 1999 og 2001 og er bestilt av NICEM. Urframføringa fant sted under Music Factory i Bergen 27.05.01.

swrd

-still waters run deep

aquatic
become
between
ocean
on
quiet
away
ning
eyes
over
with
skin
life
of
born
surface
the
troubled
under
borne
fall
logged
s
life
at
the
of
the
and
ning
the
above
waves
s
rest
devil
oblivion
crest
calm
ning
night
ed
and
of
ning
the
a
blue
wave
sea

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