3 Shapes for Christian and Paloma
Here’s a little graphic score written for Christian Perez (double bass) and Paloma Carrasco (cello), two exceptional musicians I play with in La Criatura.
The first part of the composition are a series of long sounds that fade in and out. Why the long sounds? They are there to enable the performers to listen acutley to each others sound. Also in the piece there is a chord made in the moment. This chord repeats various through the piece and is used as a sort of a motif. The last part of the composition is a structured improvisation. Therefore the first part, the written part of the composition, can be thought of as a preparation, cleaning the ears and calming the mind for the improvisation. The question is can a written score push the players into improvising in a different way? I think it can, or at least help in some way.
Crucial beats for J.T / The distance between us
These 2 compositions explore acoustic beats. Crucial Beats for J.T is a composition written for Cello, double bass and tenor saxophone. The J.T of the title refers to James Tenney an experimental composer I much admire. The distance between us is scored for any six instruments that can play the given pitches.
There are three compositions in the Wood-Metal series, one for solo cello or double bass, a duo for cello and double bass, and a trio for cello, double bass and saxophone. All of these pieces require somebody other than the musicians present to throw a dice. The pieces are written to be played in a small space with the audience very close to the instruments. The idea for the series came about by rehearsing in living rooms with the musicians very close to each other. This enabled us to explore a whole range of sounds within a very quiet dynamic range that would be impossible to be heard in a normal concert setting. I decided that some pieces could be written with this idea, exploring these intimate sounds we don’t normally hear, the secret sounds of an instrument.
Below is a page of performance notes for one of the scores and further below there are also links to view the scores.
Performance notes. Wood-Metal-Hair-Flesh
The composition is for solo cello or double bass and for one person to
throw a dice.
The person throwing the dice should not have a copy of the score and
should be ignorant to its contents; but should be made aware that their
actions will alter the composition in some way.
The person throwing the dice must use the following criteria to decide
when to do it,
1. By listening to what is being played and acting spontaneously.
2. By ignoring what is being played and acting spontaneously.
Numbers 1 to 6 on a dice equate to the six sections of the piece.
The piece is in open form and throws of the dice decide on which order
and how long the sections are to be heard.
The dice is rolled to signify which section is to be played first.
The piece ends when the same section has been repeated 3 times.
The performer should memorize the six cues of the piece before the
performance and only use the score as a memory aid.
The performer when cued by the dice to begin another section must not
move abruptly to the next one but find a way to link/bridge the two
sound worlds together, a sort of a crossfade, blending or morphing of
Only the natural acoustic sound of the instrument must be heard
without the use of any electronic amplification.
Because of the quiet nature of many of the sounds used in the
composition it would be ideal to play it in a living room or some other
small space where the audience can be in very close proximity to the
It is not suitable to be played in a concert hall.
Scores from the series.
Dickinson is a graphic score, no directions are given on how it should be played.
Meltdown is a composition for 6 instruments. All sounds should be generally quiet or medium quiet, though different dynamics can be played if desired.
All sounds to be chosen freely by the player except at E, G, I, L, O.
Here at E the ensemble forms a chord in the moment which must be remembered and repeated each time for G, I, L, O. On the score these sound shapes are coloured black.
At A and B the musicians can move through the material at will, at section C onwards as the score dictates the musicians move through it together. Either this is felt by the players or it can be cued.
At A, make sounds in silence, the ensemble should try and not have two sounds being heard at the same time, i.e make your sound in a space, in silence.
At B, and N, ad’lib placement of sounds, the player listens and freely chooses when to make their sound.
When direct is placed next to a sound shape, this player has to direct the beginning, and at other times the end of the sounds for the other players.
When Directed is placed above a sound shape, the ensemble beforehand either chooses one player to direct all of them or decides for different players to direct them throughout the piece.
At P and Q, Sound 1 and Sound 2. One player starts an idea. At Melt, one player or players melts their sound with first sound idea. Melt can mean mirror as close as possible what the other player is doing or melt can mean dissolve the sounds together. If using instruments melt their identity.
At Respond one player or players listen and responds as they feel fit.
To print out. There are 3 pages of the score and one page of explanation.