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‘TEXTURES’, for creative ensemble (2009)

First of all this piece is not really a composition; the score is rather a working basis for a creative musical process, providing both musical and extra-musical symbols, along with a range of loose instructions of how to combine them.

The term ‘creative’ refers to the Braxtonian term ‘creative music’, which is somehow rooted in a Jazz tradition, but allows for a wider range of artistic means; in particular those that have been developed in western avantgarde music over the course of the 20th century, including a-tonality, noise production, non-thematic development, and not least graphic notation.

The agreement upon a predefined set of materials, enables the ensemble to create either homogenous or heterogeneous sound-textures, while a conductor can influence the process, by inducing parametric changes, or even changes of source material. The score’s basic function is actually to prevent free improvisation, with the idea of delivering the ensemble sound in its pure consistency, regardless of individual inventiveness. The latter embraces both the selection and combination of instruments, and a collective attitude towards the interpretation of compositional guidelines.

In terms of the western classical music tradition, the only legitimate attitude for an interpreter, is devotion to the work; ie. the musician’s individuality is supposed to stay more or less outside the process. ‘Interpretation’ means to fulfil a composer’s intention, to the best of one’s knowledge and belief. On the other hand in Jazz, the demands are quite contrary: the interpreter regards herself not as the composer’s vicarious agent, but as a creative artist herself; whereby the composer is almost a mere service provider, since the composition is basically a medium, through which the performing artist can express her individuality, in terms of her own sound. The term ‘sound’ again is virtually a synonym for an interpretive style, embracing both an individual approach to the instrument, and a great deal of improvisational self-expression.

In contrast my own approach with this piece, was to eliminate both composition and improvisation, in order to deliver the ‘sound’ itself; in fact neither as a physical phenomenon, nor as sensual experience, but as a form of artistic expression. Hence I require the musicians to perform some of the most basic exercises, in order to let ‘sound’ dominate over material .

Each of four tracks on this album is always centred on one symbol, indicating the source material, which is being modified in the process of the piece; track 1: ‘drone’ (a static orchestral chord); track 2: ‘loop’ (any sequence to be repeated a.l.); track 3 ‘absent minded’ (simulated unintentionally); track 4: ‘moments’ (alternation of sounds and silences).

These basic patterns, which are more or less familiar from experimental music of the past fifty years, serve to provide the raw material, for a sequence of before/after comparisons, on the basis of which the ensemble sound can be explored under ever changing conditions; while always revealing the respective modifications on her surface.

Since my creative agenda matches with neither New Music, nor Modern Jazz, or any other form of contemporary music, I have decided to introduce my own generic term ‘Ordinary Music’, which is founded on the recognition, that music by itself is not in first place an artform, but a medium. Similar to spoken language, music for the most part is engaged in merely functional ways, including information transfer and rituals of interaction. That is to say, art is not to be found within the musical matter, but rather within that, which is performed through the musical matter. In order to appreciate a work of musical art, the listener must know how to separate the artistic components from the merely functional ones, more or less in the same way as one, in order to appreciate a piece of literature, must have a command of the language in which it is written.

Since I intend to emphasize the performative elements of the music, I consequently reduce the functional ones to a minimum, so to speak, to the lowest common denominator of an audience, that cannot be expected to be musically educated; in fact this includes myself. My approach as an autodidact, is to transmit the process of my own self-education through the medium of music. In other words: I provide a model for the listener, to educate herself through creation.

Recorded in Lisbon, 2010, by Variable Geometric Orchestra, for Creative Sources Records.