for baritone saxophone, percussion, and CD boombox(2000)
|Commissioned by yesaroun' Duo
|February 11, 2001; Public Radio Benefit at The Dead End Café,
Parksville, NY; yesaroun Duo • Eric Hewitt, saxophone and Samuel Solomon, percussion
WATT, written in 2000 for the yesaroun' Duo, is scored for baritone saxophone and non-pitched percussion and boombox and takes its title from the work by Samuel Beckett of the same name. John Coltrane's late avant-garde albums like Interstellar Space (1967), in which he was accompanied only by a drummer, was a major inspiration for me. The bulk of the piece is a long development, beginning with sparse hits poking out of the silence, and gradually growing into a funky frenzy of sound. The surrounding music juxtaposes long periods of intense fury and long periods of near motionlessness. These two opposite sound worlds grow from or interrupt each other. At the close of the piece, the long development section is recapitulated, this time played on a boombox and manipulated electronically - the first 1'45" of the opening of the piece is collapsed to sound in 20".
This early piece was important to me as an study in my use of multiphonics. Before this piece, I had tried to “reconcile” multiphonics with my other pitch systems. Around the time of writing this piece, what helped me was to consider the structure of Japanese language, in which three different alphabets continuously collaborate in a singular, linear, flow. It is a counterpoint of multiple systems (two phonetic alphabets and one ideogrammic alphabet). When I likened the multiphonics to ideograms, I had my break through: I can structure the piece like a manifold –play Scrabble and Mahjong at the same time. As the piece progresses, the “voice-leading” and harmonic tension is guided by the multiphonics, as they accumulate in frequency of occurence, as well as increasing in harmonic density.
- Ken Ueno