I just want to say that I am thrilled with how the Thin Edge concert went last Friday. Gallery 345 is a beautiful space with great acoustics. The new violin duo, Through closed doors, looked great in there and Ilana and Suhashini sounded FANTASTIC! I couldn’t be happier with the piece at this stage in the process.
Photo by Terry Lim. Performers: Ilana Waniuk and Suhashini Arulanandam.
I am happy to say that the notation seems to be working exactly as planned. I feel so lucky to work with such adventurous and dedicated musicians. Now I’m waiting for the recording (and taking a little breather) before making some revisions and starting on the next stages: making the final layout of the score and engraving the door (if this sentence is confusing, look down at the last two posts).
I am also extremely happy to have met the cellist Dobrochna Zubek, who performed The Child, Bringer of Light. It was great working with her to prepare the piece. She approached it with thoughtfulness, sensitivity and a strong desire to make it her own. She is now the fourth performer to take it on and it’s fascinating to hear the transformations the piece goes through each time.
Photo by Terry Lim. Performer: Dobrochna Zubek.
Speaking of The Child and its transformations, the piece will be performed at the end of March by Claire Poillion in a brand new arrangement for viola. I am very curious to see how the piece will transfer to this instrument. The performance will be my Uruguayan debut (check the Events page for details).
As discussed earlier, I am working on a piece for two violins built around an antique wooden door. Since this piece is already in an unusual form, I thought I would make it even more complicated by trying out some new notational techniques. I have completely done away with dynamic markings and bow pressure indications. Instead, I am using the staff lines themselves to shape the musical line. As much as possible, I am also trying to incorporate accents into this more visual system.
I think the result is very intuitive. The dynamics are completely relative and bow pressure is not an ugly black wedge above the staff. I am hoping this approach will eliminate the arguments about the difference between mp and mf, and give the performers an opportunity to react to the page in a more emotional and intuitive way. It also makes the staff look like wood patterns, which makes me happy.
I think this sort of notation would only really work with certain types of material. What I’m writing is fairly simple in terms of melody and rhythm, and the music doesn’t move up and down the staff very much. In fact, much of it happens below it or above it. So far, Ilana and Suhashini are not reporting any problems with legibility, but I think it would become an issue if I was writing anything much more complex. If the spacing between lines changes too much, I think it would be difficult to maintain any sort of reference point.
Since I will be engraving the score onto a wooden door, this project must involve several stages. I would like to really test out the music before committing it for eternity to such a solid medium. The musical portion of this semi-theatrical work will be premiered by the wonderful Thin Edge New Music Collective in Toronto on February 21. The door itself will follow at a later date. I will also be making a colour paper score using some fancy markers and calligraphy pens (see my past hand-scoring work here).