Mo(nu)ments, Book II - Microludia for keyboard instruments (nos. 13-31)

Microludium no. 30 - Serial labyrinth

4 parts1 page00:106 months ago117 views
Serial procedures fit very well within the formula of the microlude. So I created this tiny serial composition.

I applied serial procedures on several musical parameters (pitch, duration, dynamics and articulation). Since it is a piano piece, I also devided the keyboard in twelve sections. Above that I used the same row Alban Berg used for his 'Lyric Suite'. One important thing about this row: In order also to bring the individual intervals in a logic form, this row is an all-interval row, so using all eleven intervals within the octave.

The piece is not that strict, because I permited myself a few liberties, just for musical reasons: 1) Since the range of dynamics would be too wide from PPPPP to FFFFF (would you hear a clear difference between PPPPP and PPPP?), I limited them to two series of dymanics, ranging from PP to FF. 2) In articulation it is almost not possible to make a gradual series. So I just choose twelve different articulations, which I applied on usable notes (a . for example under a long note makes no sense). Also to avoid only long or short notes in the low and high registers I manipulated this counting not from 1 to 12, but 1, 12, 2, 11, 3, 10, etc.

Microludium no. 29 - Fifths in Five

1 part1 page00:056 months ago87 views
This microludium makes use of the same musical content as the 'Choral in fifths', but then in a complete other way. Where the choral is a quite elaborated and harmonic piece, this double is exact the opposite: short and melodic. Also in character it is different. Where the choral is serious, its double is light-hearted and playfull.

The title refers to the five gestes of the piece making use of fifths.

Listen here to 'Choral in fifths':

Together with 'Canon in sixths' and the 'Notation pour Pierre Boulez', this piece belongs to a group of microludes consisting only of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale and depending on a single interval.

Microludium no. 28 - Il sereno (Study in minor chords)

1 part1 page00:476 months ago112 views
Minor chord progressions are an inexhaustible source of inspiration to me. This microludium starts with a melodic line - closing in itself, build up of arpegged minor triads, or suggestions of them. The first bar gives the notes of A minor. The first half of the second bar suggests G# minor and the second half of this bar suggests B minor. The first two notes of the third bar suggest Bb minor, with a closing A referring to the A minor of the first bar.

The next part of the piece consists of two crossing lines. The right hand moves in a chromatical descending line in minor chords. The left hand consists of an ascending line also in minor chords just a minor third apart from each other. The delicacy of these progressions are the rich sonorities of sounding six note chords, with a filled up eleven note chord in the last bar as its climax.

Microludium no. 27 - I. INSIGHT

1 part1 page00:5111 months ago353 views
In this little microlude I play with the modal and chromatical filling of the open fifth A - E. It sounds in every chord.
The second layer in the piece are all kinds of mirror forms:
- On a horizontal level C/C# functions as a kind of axis. The C/C# axis is the most clear in the third phrase.
- At the same time there is a kind of extension of the open fifth. The last note of the first phrase is a G#, just a minor second below the A - E open fifth. The second phrase starts with a high F, the mirror note of the lower G#.
- The last phrase, as a cluser, fills up the open (extended) fifth G#/A - E/F. The melodic line of the cluster mirrors exactly the melodic line of the first phase, but then in retrograde inversion.
By using all these mirror forms a text line by Saint Paul came to my mind. Not as a theologian explanation, but just beacuse of its poetics. As the mirror texture gets more dense during the piece, it opens up suddenly in the last chord: the same open fifth as with the piece has started.

The piece is originally conceived for portative organ, although it also works quite well on the piano. The portative is a little organ with usually one stop (a flute 8'). I am fond of the nice soft sound of this stop. In the middle ages the portative was played with one hand, the other on had to activate the bellows.

Probably the portative will inspire me to more little pieces played just by one hand. These will form a separate group within the Microlude-series and belonging to a group of pieces concerning ancient jewish and christian wisdom traditions.
I. INSIGHT (inzicht)
II. PERSPECTIVE (doorzicht)
III. VISTA (uitzicht)

Once I had the plan, or better the wish, to write a long work for organ solo like Bach's 'Clavierübung III' or Messiaen's 'Livre du Saint Sacrement'. It should have become a piece in the form of a liturgy, titled: 'Musica reformata - after Ligeti's 'Musica ricercata'. Only this little choral survives from this plan.

Microludium no. 26 - 'Interlude' from 'Helsinki Reminiscences'

1 part1 page00:25a year ago191 views
This microlude is part of the harpsichord suite 'Helsinki Reminiscences, but it also can be played on its own.

In the suite it functions as an interlude, played ad libitum between the Sarabande (movement 4) and the Menuet (movement 5). This piece can best be considered like Schumann's 'Sphinxes' from Carnaval, op. 9.

The bare rocks in Helsinki are a strange experience, since they appear at unexpected locations in the city. The massive in which the Rock Church is build, is one of the most striking places. In this Interlude the strangeness is illustrated by the almost atonal sounding of the harsh chord blocks. But a closer look reveals that every chord is build up from an octotonic row on e. Since the whole Suite is centered around e-minor this fits in the over-all concept.

In the formation of these chord blocks I used an inversion technique used already by Olivier Messiaen. The purpose is to give the illusion of different 'sights' on the same rock formation.
The technique is as follows: Every note of the octotonic scale I gave a number from 1 to 8. So e=1; f sharp=2; g=3; a=4; b flat=5; c=6; d flat=7 and e flat=8. From this sequence I created the following row: 5-1-7-3-8-4-2-6. I then took each number referring to to the position inside the 'row': the initial 5 to the fifth number (8), 1 to the first number (5), 7 to the seventh number (2), and so on. This created the first inversion. What I didn't expect, but what happened under my eyes, was that at the seventh inversion I got this note row: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8: the perfect octotonic scale!! :D. For who wants to know, I give here the whole set of inversions. Each inversion corresponds with each chord in the piece.
I --> 8-5-2-7-6-3-1-4
II --> 6-8-1-2-4-7-5-3
III --> 4-6-5-1-3-2-8-7
IV --> 3-4-8-5-7-1-6-2
V --> 7-3-6-8-2-5-4-1
VI --> 2-7-4-6-1-8-3-5
VII --> 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8

Microludium no. 25 - 'Les adieux'

1 part1 page00:19a year ago556 views
A little piece based on the same kernel motive of Beethoven's piano sonata 'Les adieux' and Ligeti's masterly Horn Trio. It is my hommage to the so called 'horn quints'.

Microludium no. 24 - 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness'

1 part1 page00:14a year ago175 views
Backround: Even before I started to write the collection of 'Microludes' I was already experimenting with small forms. In this little piece it is not Kurtág, but Messiaen whose musical language is most present. In that time I also wanted to write biblical inpired pieces. I was enchanted by the idea of an invisible voice crying from the desert. One finds this quote in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 3, vers 3, which in turn is a quote from the prophecy of Isaiah (chapter 40, vers 3). At the same time the piece is also partly linked to the volume of essays by the Hungarian writer György Konrád titled 'The invisable voice' whcih deals about questions of Jewish identity and the meaning of Jewish culture in general.

About the piece: The whole piece consists of two frases. Actually both are selections or 'cuts' out of an endless chain of third and sixth alternations. This chain is octotonic orientated, so this microlude belongs to the modal section of the Mo(nu)ments collection.

The actual idea to upload this early piece came from Hans Jacobi's beautiful piece for flute 'Dream of the Wilderness'.

Microludium no. 23 - The irrepressible doom

1 part1 page00:26a year ago240 views
About the piece: In this microludium I explore The Third Way, as described by Paul Sampson in his very readable blog. The piece is build upon two descending twelve-note rows, only consisting of minor and major thirds. The accompaniment consists of inverted thirds, i.e. sixths. But every measure ascending a minor second. The result is that the notes of every two bars are interchangable with each other.
But besides the technical aspects the piece expresses indeed something unavoidable. The 'doom' probably will be 'felt' most because of the lowest note in the piece, not playable on a regular keyboard, only on a Fazioli or Bösendorfer Imperial 290 grand piano.

Microludium no. 22 - Notation en quatre gests

1 part1 page00:10a year ago143 views
Backround: In his own 'Notations' Pierre Boulez created fascinating miniatures for piano in which he uses Schönberg's twelve note technique in a very sophisticated way. This 'Notations' excels in transparancy and clearness. I tried to get the same atmosphere with this Microludium, that functions as a humble tribute to one of the biggest composers of the twentieth century.

About the piece: Just a 12-note row used in a more free and gestural way.

Just as Bouleze did with his 'Notations' I also arranged this 'Notations' for chamber ensemble:

Microludium no. 21 - Mozart's Microludium

1 part1 page00:10a year ago336 views
Mozart the avangardist. Several passages in Mozart's pieces are even today sounding quite modern. For instance the start of his 'Dissonanzenquartett', or some striking passes in his 40th and 41rst Symphonies. For instance the start of the development section of the finale of Symphony no. 40. This is a robust, may be even bold, passage that must have shocked his contemporaries. In a few bars Mozart transforms the main theme in an atonal passage using eleven of the twelve chromatic notes (except the tonic g), just in a few bars. In the same passage he also blurs the feeling of pulse by long rests. The result is sounding as a sort of amorph structure as if it is a kind Second Viennese School avant le lettre.

This passage has fascinated since a very long time. The interesting thing is, that by isolating this passage, it still sounds as a little piece of its own. In the transcription for piano I only exaggarated it boldness by using 'strange' octavations of the melody line. If Mozart would have known the music of Webern and Kurtág, he probably created such a microludium.
Microludium no. 20  - Suprematist Study

Microludium no. 20 - Suprematist Study

1 part1 page00:1510 months ago366 views
Messiaen and Ligeti are known apart from their innovative music also for their suffering from synesthesia. Some people experience colours when they hear sounds or when they see numbers. What if you would experience geometrical forms when you hear sounds? This idea was the impuls for this little piece. Imagine thirds like circles, fourth and fifths like squares and seconds and sevenths like sharp triangles.

Like 'Cantilena' this piece consists of the twelve chromatic notes, not in a melodical way, but just harmonic; in bare intervals.

For this piece I used Malevich's Suprematism No. 55 (Spherical Evolution of a Plane), 1917, Oil on canvas, 25 7/8 x 19 in.
Microludium no. 19 - Cantilena

Microludium no. 19 - Cantilena

1 part1 page00:1310 months ago300 views
This microludium belongs to the section of strict twelve tone pieces. Just the twelve chromatical notes and the challange to make a sounding structure with these. In these case it is one melody, a desolate cantilena.

Microludium no. 18 - A subsequent postscript

1 part1 page00:279 months ago384 views
Most pieces are dealing with extending the potentialities of musical material. In this microludium I did the opposite by compressing rhythm or actually musical time. In the second version this idea has been more elaborated.

The title was difficult to translate from Dutch to English. In Dutch the piece has the character of a 'nagekomen postscriptum'.

Microludium no. 16 - Choral in fifths

3 parts1 page00:41a year ago178 views
About the piece:
In a sense this is a strict dodecaphonic piece, since two complete circles of fifths are used with the left hand as a perfect retrogade of the right hand.

The purpose of this 'choral' was to find out what happens when the starting c sounds throughout the piece in spite of continuoulsy changing harmonic contexts. After having heard the circle of fifths in a melodic way, the choral closes with a huge chord containing a complete circle of fifths in a harmonic way.

The German choral 'O Lamm Gottes' opens with a perfect fifth, so I kept the head motive as a starting point for my own six voice abstract choral.

Here is the transcription of the Bach-choral by Kurtág:

Microludium no. 14 - Little canon in sixths

1 part1 page00:11a year ago154 views
Out of the twelve chromatic tones I wanted to create a piece only consisting of the interval of sixths. After some puzzling I came to this little canon. After the first entrance of the material in right and left hand (thesis), there follows a kind of stretto in shortened and inversed form (antithese). The canon concludes with, indeed, a sixth.

Microludium no. 13 - Glorious C

1 part1 page00:13a year ago130 views
About the piece:
After an improvisation session on the tonality of C, I came across the idea to put all kind of variant chords on C in one piece. The overall arch is that of a descending and an ascending musical line. The more dark and complex harmonies sounds in the low register of the piano, the bright sonorities on C glitter in the highest registers. The tonalities and modalities are in the following order:

- C major, diatonic cluster
- c minor, diatonic cluster
- octotonic cluster on C
- gypsy scale on C
- pentatonic
- C Lydian mode, diatonic cluster
- C major, triad

Microludium no. 31 - Eight notes for a lifetime

2 parts1 page00:15a month ago133 views
This tiny microludium is meant as a huge homage to one of my favorite, and, at this time, still living composers: György Kurtág (1926). This March I will attend the Dutch premier of his first and probably only opera 'Fin de partie' ('Endgame'), based on Samuel Beckett's eponymous play. This opera marks the endpoint of a long and impressive artistic life, full of outbursts of creativity, but with even more periods of desperate inspirationlessness.

Musing about this almost 93-aged man, I recollected my one-time meeting with Kurtág in 2001. I interviewed him to get fruitful material for my undergradual thesis I was preparing at that time. During the same occasion I also attended a masterclass by Kurtág. With some students he worked on his Wind Quintet, op. 2. The horn player had some difficulties with her part. After trying a passage several times, she bursted into tears. Kurtág put his arm around her shoulders and spoke the legendary words: "Why do you cry? You have a lifetime to learn these eight notes".