works

All works in chronological order; or download list in pdf

 

2016-17

denkbilder
for ensemble
Instrumentation: alto flute/piccolo, Bb/bass clarinet, oboe/eng. horn, piano, percussion, violin, viola, cello
Premiere: 30 april 2017, Brussels; Odysseia Ensemble
Duration: approx. 12 minutes
Commissioned by: Odysseia Ensemble
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
The thought-image (Denkbild)—a word used by Walter Benjamin as a kind of generic term for his own shorter text-pieces—can be seen as lying at the heart of his work on thinking-in-images (Bilddenken). His thought-images are dialectical images in written form, literally constellationsbecome-writing (Schrift-gewordene Konstellationen).The concept of images has nothing to do with the history of material images, nor with a ‘mental image’ but as a constellation of resemblances which is figured in a third, beyond a form-content relation.

Missing from the thought-image are the formal features of narrativization. One searches in vain for a central subject or a clearly defined plot development but rather it’s a constant flight from place to place to place.

2016-17

totenkopf
for duo
Instrumentation: piccolo & oboe or piccolo & Eb clarinet
Premiere: (clarinet version)30 april 2017, Brussels; Katrien Gaelens, flute – Dries Tack, clarinet
Duration: approx. 9 minutes
Commissioned by: (clarinet version) Odysseia Ensemble
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
‘Whereas in the symbol destruction is idealized and the transfigured face of nature is fleetingly revealed in the light of redemption, in allegory the observer is confronted with the facies hippocratica (totenkopf) of history as a petrified primordial landscape. Everything about history that from the very beginning has been untimely, sorrowful, unsuccessful, is expressed in a face – or rather in a death’s head.’ (W. Benjamin)

This piece started off as what could perhaps be labelled a ‘transit piece’ in the context of the cycle einbahnstraße. This is even (somewhat naively) represented in the work by the transitions in register in the 2 instruments: the piccolo beginning with its very lowest note and always aiming upwards; and the other instrument’s opposite route. But this allegorical transit is constantly unsuccessful; other material breaking through and piling themselves up and what could be simple becomes complex and fragmented.

totenkopf exists in 2 versions: for piccolo and oboe or for piccolo and Eb clarinet.

2015-16

Simulacrum
for chamber orchestra
Instrumentation: chamber orchestra (2222 1210 2 strings
Premiere: 19 february 2017, Basel; Kammerorchester Basel/Franck Ollu
Duration: approx. 17 minutes
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
A simulacrum (from Latin: which means likeness, similarity) is a representation or imitation of a person or thing; copies that depict things that either had no original to begin with, or that no longer have an original. This piece largely deals with constant repetitions of ‘damaged’ materials and their potential expressiveness. The simulacrum is the content which affect or ‘modifies’ these repetitions; the system in which different relates to different by means of difference itself. ‘It is not the same which returns, it is not the similar which returns; rather, the same is the returning of that which returns, – in other words, of the Different.’ [G. Deleuze]

While it is a truism that music is an art of time, most of my pieces are concerned in some way with time and its perception which, in this piece, determines the formal principle of fragmentation in each case. Between each fragment is a simulacrum and the return of material affirms difference, dissemblance and disparateness, chance, multiplicity and becoming.
The original (virtual) material could be categorised as:

1. Texture (recognisable consistent quality field)
2. Gesture (semantically energized emotive signifier)
3. Figure (conglomerate of potentially independent formal markers)

and

border-states (time transformations): glissando, static texture, slowly changing texture, ‘coloured silence’, complete silence.
The piece ‘flirts’ with two types of time: the faster, highly figured material and; a ‘frozen’ sustained texture (border state). These border-states also create (in my perception) a “macro-rhythm” within the piece. But qualitatively perceived states can overlap, rather than being organized into a distinct succession as concepts; creating a (vision of) ‘confused multiplicity’. This is perhaps most apparent in the ‘insert’ of the percussion solo where figures occur against a timeless backdrop of ‘ethereal slow motion’.

A ‘concerto for ensemble’ Simulacrum is written for players often momentarily deployed in small chamber groups or, more rarely, as soloists. Although, because the wind section is populated with different register instruments (i.e. piccolo, flute / Bb clarinet, Bass clarinet / bassoon, contrabassoon) and the range of percussion is sizeable, my intention is that the piece’s colour-spectrum is richer still than the 23-strong ensemble suggests.

2015-16

matheme
for double trio
Instrumentation: bass flute, bass clarinet, contrabass, violin, alto trombone, piano
Premiere: 24 october 2016, New York
Duration: approx. 14 minutes
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
The matheme indicates a relationship, where the relationship is problematic, unstable and continuously open to re-negotiation.
Two separated trios playing separate music. The ambiguity of where this music can meet seems to endorse the notion of a ‘transitive’ space – a matheme, creating an invisible third space perhaps.

Recording:

2015-16

mirrors
for trio
Instrumentation: violin, alto trombone, piano
Duration: approx. 13,5 minutes

2015-16

Meaning of No Meaning
for trio
Instrumentation: bass flute, bass clarinet, contrabass
Premiere: 9 october 2013, Brussels – Katrien Gaelens, Dries Tack, Jens Similox-Tohon
Duration: approx. 13,5 minutes

Program note:
On a pure musical level this music is about contrasts.
Two ‘themes’; one melodic, looping restatements, obstacles and ornamented planes, tentative lattices of simultaneity, networks forming and diffusing with a fine tread running between the instruments;
the other like a broken machine, jolting and splattering. But also ‘themes’ against ‘no-theme’, or development against ‘staticness’ and so on… (Meaning against No Meaning).

Maybe what I am after with this music is what’s between these contrasts, leaving the music for itself, “being by itself”.
But in the moment that is created between these contrasts a new thought can be formed by the listener.
When you turn your attention to it, the meaningless meaning assumes a meaning that defeats its own purpose.
There is no more meaningless meaning.
Meaning now has some meaning. It points to something else.
But when we become meaning itself, we need not talk about meaning anymore.

-2016-

arteria
electronic music
Instrumentation: electronic music
Premiere: 23 september 2016, Mexico City
Duration: 7 minutes 10 seconds

Program note:
Arteria
(from Greek ἀρτηρία (artēria), meaning “windpipe, artery”) are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. In this electro-acoustic piece, which forms part IX of a larger piece for cello solo, electronics and visual performance, I have imagined this vessels, pulsating blood through the body. Formally the piece contains 2 “parts” building a sort of arch, or increase/decrease of blood pressure of you will. The first part is static in its character, with one sound with different microtonal changes in the 6 channels respectively. The second part, by contrast, is very varied with different information being sent through the ”arterias”, so to speak. All sounds are electronically produced and the whole sounds-scape is clearly electronic.

Recording: (stereomix)


-2016-

O ew'ge Nacht
Instrumentation: piano, cello and electronics
Premiere: 28 June 2016, Santiago de Compostela; Vertixe Sonora (David Durán, Thomas Piel)
Duration: approx. 19 minutes
Commissioned by: Vertixe Sonora
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
When approach to participate in the project “Sound Correspondences” I was told that the concert was to be related to a collective exhibition of the CGAC. For me the artist involved is María Ruido who presented her work “La memoria interior” for me. While there may be certain connections between our works (construction of memory would be one), what immediately struck me was the very beginning where, in complete darkness, Nur Stille, Stille (from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte) is heard.
The title of my piece, O ew’ge nacht, is also taken from Die Zauberflöte where it is a short recitative; the topic being that of questions about the afterlife, eternal life, and love.


If the recitative is a Message from Beyond, this music struggles, through the performers (as some kind of deformed Papageno and Pamina figures), trying to ask a question. The effect of struggle is twofold, for while the music itself articulates a search through potential material, the player is faced with notation of great complexity from which a performance must be extrapolated. In this sense, the struggle is not only that of the extreme performance situation, but also one of creating a piece of music of any real significance.
It (tries to) offer a reflexive narrative of how it is to be in the world; it can never hope to be objective or to tell anyone anything new, but nevertheless holds out for the possibility that one might, in the telling, somehow stumble across something of note; musical composition (and, by extension, listening) as an attempt to bring order to a (fictionally) broken down remnant of… what? The distant past? The depths of the subconscious? (The inner Memory?)
When the chorus answers Tamino’s question “O eternal night, when will you disappear? they represent a calling from an afterlife, and they provide two answers: to the question of when he should find light, the dying Mozart receives the response “Soon, soon or never more,” and the syllabic singing of the name “Pa-mi-na” becomes an incantation…

-2016-

Beyond the Quintessential Quincunx
Instrumentation: bass clarinet, violin, acoustic guitar, sound objects
Premiere: 31 Mars 2016, Århus; Curious Chamber Players (Dries Tack, Karin Hellqvist, Frederik Munk Larsen, Rei Munakata)
Duration: approximately 6 minutes

Recording:

2015-16

drifting – part 2 of Cycle IV from “synthetic fragments
Instrumentation: percussion, alto-flute, optional live electronics
Premiere: 26 February 2016, Barcelona; Duo Arà (A. Rombolá, N. Andorrà)+ Henrik Denerin
Duration: variable (12-15 minutes suggested)

-2015-

monade (diskontinuierliche Endlichkeit)
for trio
Instrumentation: clarinet in A, cello, piano
Premiere: 10 january 2016, Paris; Ensemble Aleph (Dominique Clément, Christophe Roy, Sylvie Drouin)
Duration: approx. 10 minutes
Commissioned by: Ensemble Aleph
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
Monad (from Greek μονάς monas, “unit” in turn from μόνος monos, “alone”)

The monad, the word and the idea, belongs to the western philosophical tradition and has been used by various authors, most famously by Leibniz that designates the monad as metaphysical point (without extension) in which the entire universe is reflected.

Monads are manifest, they are everywhere, and there is no extension without monads. They are, then, the plenum, that is to say, the condition of an infinitely dense universe, but nevertheless they are unextended. However, this doesn’t mean that they lack of any function (as far as they project and reflect force), matter (since they come with it) or that they are extended (considering that they don’t interact with anything in the world).

The ‘intensive infinity’ within the monad is in excess of any concept. Monadic fullness is dizzying, ‘confused.’ The infinity within the monad is infinitely analyzable, which means that it cannot be captured by a finite consciousness, but is lost for intentionality. Nonetheless, this loss is not an abstract negation of knowledge, since the monad has all the complex determinacy of an intensive gathering of relations.

The ‘pregnant’ fullness of the monad intends no mythic re-enchantment of nature. On the contrary, it definitively secularizes temporality, and shows how the modern notion of progress reintroduces the Christian via recta into the representation of time.
Walter Benjamin’s monad is simultaneously packed with all of its predicates – past, present, and future. Benjamin describes the intensive infinity within the monad as its absorption of all of its ‘virtual history’ (both becoming and passing away) in a pre-stabilized essence. We become aware of the infinite complexity in our perceptions by intensifying our attention to what is already implicit in our representations.

monade (diskontinuierliche Endlichkeit) – Oscillation measures the failure of a limit to exist.

Recording:

-2015-

seals II – part 4 of Cycle III from synthetic fragments
for cello & soprano or cello solo
Instrumentation: cello & soprano (or cello solo)
Premiere: 2 mars 2017 (both versions), Brussels
Duration: approx. 1 minute

Program note:
The title of this work, seals, comes from the Italian philosopher, mathematician, poet, Dominican friar and astrologer Giordano Bruno (1548 – 1600). Although not widely recognized he is celebrated for his cosmological theories, which went even further than the then-novel Copernican model. Bruno also correctly proposed that the Sun was just another star moving in space, and claimed as well that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds, identified as planets orbiting other stars. Because of his, at the time, radical thinking (including supporting Galileo Galilei) Bruno was forced to leave Italy in 1576, first to France and later to England and Germany. In 1591, in a time when the Inquisition seemed to be losing some of its impetus, and Venice seemed especially safe as it was the most liberal state in Italy; therefore Bruno was lulled into making the fatal mistake of returning to Italy. In 1592 he was arrested by the Venetian Inquisition, sent to Rome and charged of blasphemy and heresy. After 7 years of trial the Inquisition found him guilty, and in 1600 Bruno was burned at stake in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori. Bruno’s case is still considered a landmark in the history of free thought and the future of the emerging sciences.

In addition to his cosmological writings, Bruno also wrote extensively on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles and it is these writings that the title of my piece refer to. Early in 1583, soon after his arrival in England, Bruno published the massive volume on memory which is referred to as Seals, though it really consists of four items, as follows:


     Ars reminiscendi
     Triginta sigilli
     Explanatio triginta sigillorum
     Sigillus sigillorum


So, 30 seals (Triginta sigilli) and the seal of seals (Sigillus sigillorum). What then are these seals? The art of mnemonics tradition, e.g. Fra Agostino del Riccio’s work Arte delle memoria locale (unpublished, but the manuscript exists in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence) uses the idea of presenting the principles and various techniques of the art through little symbolic pictures, with titles. This is exactly what the Seals are, statements of the principles and techniques of the art – but, magicised, complicated with Lullism and Cabbalism, blown up into inscrutable mysteries.

The seals are not confined to any one system. On the contrary Bruno states that he is trying every possible way; perhaps something for which he is not looking may emerge out of this, as alchemists who do not succeed in making gold sometimes hit on other important discoveries. In the later Seals he is trying variations of astrological arrangements, devices of a Lullist nature (or what he supposes to be Lullist), infiltrations of Cabalist magic in the unending search for a really operative organisation of the psyche. And the search always brings in the tricks of the memory trade, the old techniques of which can be recognised in Seal after Seal, though now presented as occult mysteries.
If we drop the word ‘magical’ and think of the efforts of an occult memory artist as directed towards drawing out of the psyhe combinations of ‘archetypal’ images we come within range of some major trends of modern psychological thought.

There is something, to my mind, profound in the Seals, as though in its inner moulding of significant memory statues, this drawing out of tremendous forms by subtraction of the inessential, Giordano Bruno, the memory artist, were introducing us to the core of the creative act, the inner act which precedes the outer expression.

The work seals II is one of eleven works for solo instruments which form cycle III of “synthetic fragments”.

full score

-2015-

astrocyte
electronic music
Instrumentation: electronic music
Premiere: 26 Mars 2016, Tuscaloosa, USA
Duration: 3 minutes

Program note:
astrocyte (Astro from Greek astron = star and cyte from Greek “kyttaron” = cell) are characteristic star-shaped glial cells in the brain and spinal cord. Recent research (2015) has shown that these cells have a important role to help the brain to remember. They have also been showed to occilate.

In this electro-acoustic piece, which forms part III of the piece “Ontology of Becoming” for cello solo, electronics and visual performance, I have imagined this “cell – world”; how these cells sends information and how that may sound like.

Formally the piece contains 10 “phrases” of different lengths. (These different phrases; their lengths, construction etc. are connected to the piece in its whole and could be regarded as a way at looking into the brain and see, through the astrocytes, how it treats the memory (and pre-memory) of the piece… a kind of information flow of every part… but condensed).

astrocyte forms the 3rd part of a large scale work for cello, electronics and visual performance.
The visuals are by Thomas Marcusson.

Recording:

Demo of visual performance (by T. Marcusson:

-2015-

fluchtlinien-D
for flute and percussion
Instrumentation: flute (with B foot), percussion
Premiere: 26 February 2016, Barcelona; Duo Arà (A. Rombolá, N. Andorrà)
Duration: approx. 8 minutes

Program note:
fluchtlinien-D is fluchtlinien with a structured improvised percussion part.

fluchtlinien – With this concept Deleuze and Guattari points at possible alternatives to the dominating approach. One example is how the music sends out lines of flight (fluchtlinien) when it multiplies and spreads like a diverse weed of sound. Fluchtlininen thus indicates the potential for something different to take shape, for example, the opportunity of re-thinking.
Every form of life – a body, a social group, an organism or even a concept – consists of links and connections. Genes come together to form cells; cells are collected to form tribes. The term ‘human being’ is an example of such an interconnection of reason, a certain type of body (white, male), speech, and so on. But every connection also allows a fluchtlinie; there is always the potential for genetic mutation. The definition of man as rational also enables a dispute about what constitutes humanity: e.g., is it rational to put up a stock of nuclear weapons? Thus, every definition wears, every territorialisationtorium or body, the opportunities that opens up for a fluchtlinie that could turn it into something else.

score excerpt page 1-3

-2015-

fluchtlinien
for flute
Instrumentation: flute (with B foot)
Premiere: 23 August 2015, Tokyo Opera City, Tokyo (Japan); Kazuko Ihara
Duration: approx. 8 minutes

Program note:
With this concept Deleuze and Guattari points at possible alternatives to the dominating approach. One example is how the music sends out lines of flight (fluchtlinien) when it multiplies and spreads like a diverse weed of sound. Fluchtlininen thus indicates the potential for something different to take shape, for example, the opportunity of re-thinking.
Every form of life – a body, a social group, an organism or even a concept – consists of links and connections. Genes come together to form cells; cells are collected to form tribes. The term ‘human being’ is an example of such an interconnection of reason, a certain type of body (white, male), speech, and so on. But every connection also allows a fluchtlinie; there is always the potential for genetic mutation. The definition of man as rational also enables a dispute about what constitutes humanity: e.g., is it rational to put up a stock of nuclear weapons? Thus, every definition wears, every territorialisationtorium or body, the opportunities that opens up for a fluchtlinie that could turn it into something else.

score excerpt page 1-2

-2015-

verzeitlichung
for ensemble 
Instrumentation: clarinet (Bb/bass), piano, violin, viola, cello
Premiere: 23 April 2015, Fabra i Coats, Barcelona (Spain); Ensemble Recherche
Duration: approx. 11 minutes
Commissioned by: Mixtur Festival for Ensemble Recherche
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
Perhaps it is first in the interpretation process that an artwork unfolds to what it is interpreted as. Interpretandum is thus not something instantly given but grows from esthetic experience and critical reflection – it is both the result of and the object of the study. Also in a temporal respect, mediation between production and interpretation is crucial: the artwork is produced not in its contemporary history (the past), but its time (the present) in the artwork. This temporalization (verzeitlichung) of the artwork during the process of composition transforms its interior into a “micro eon”. The interpretation crystallizes the work to a structure.

score excerpt page 1-2

Recording:

-2015-

seals I – part 1 of Cycle III from synthetic fragments
for violin solo & ensemble 
Instrumentation: violin solo, english horn, Eb clarinet, piano, soprano, cello
Duration: approx. 2 minutes
Premiere: 21 June 2015, Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel;
Veerle Houbraken – soloviolin & Odysseia Ensemble conducted by Bart Bouckaert

Program note:
The title of this work, seals, comes from the Italian philosopher, mathematician, poet, Dominican friar and astrologer Giordano Bruno (1548 – 1600). Although not widely recognized he is celebrated for his cosmological theories, which went even further than the then-novel Copernican model. Bruno also correctly proposed that the Sun was just another star moving in space, and claimed as well that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds, identified as planets orbiting other stars. Because of his, at the time, radical thinking (including supporting Galileo Galilei) Bruno was forced to leave Italy in 1576, first to France and later to England and Germany. In 1591, in a time when the Inquisition seemed to be losing some of its impetus, and Venice seemed especially safe as it was the most liberal state in Italy; therefore Bruno was lulled into making the fatal mistake of returning to Italy. In 1592 he was arrested by the Venetian Inquisition, sent to Rome and charged of blasphemy and heresy. After 7 years of trial the Inquisition found him guilty, and in 1600 Bruno was burned at stake in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori. Bruno’s case is still considered a landmark in the history of free thought and the future of the emerging sciences.

In addition to his cosmological writings, Bruno also wrote extensively on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles and it is these writings that the title of my piece refer to. Early in 1583, soon after his arrival in England, Bruno published the massive volume on memory which is referred to as Seals, though it really consists of four items, as follows:


     Ars reminiscendi
     Triginta sigilli
     Explanatio triginta sigillorum
     Sigillus sigillorum


So, 30 seals (Triginta sigilli) and the seal of seals (Sigillus sigillorum). What then are these seals? The art of mnemonics tradition, e.g. Fra Agostino del Riccio’s work Arte delle memoria locale (unpublished, but the manuscript exists in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence) uses the idea of presenting the principles and various techniques of the art through little symbolic pictures, with titles. This is exactly what the Seals are, statements of the principles and techniques of the art – but, magicised, complicated with Lullism and Cabbalism, blown up into inscrutable mysteries.

The seals are not confined to any one system. On the contrary Bruno states that he is trying every possible way; perhaps something for which he is not looking may emerge out of this, as alchemists who do not succeed in making gold sometimes hit on other important discoveries. In the later Seals he is trying variations of astrological arrangements, devices of a Lullist nature (or what he supposes to be Lullist), infiltrations of Cabalist magic in the unending search for a really operative organisation of the psyche. And the search always brings in the tricks of the memory trade, the old techniques of which can be recognised in Seal after Seal, though now presented as occult mysteries.
If we drop the word ‘magical’ and think of the efforts of an occult memory artist as directed towards drawing out of the psyhe combinations of ‘archetypal’ images we come within range of some major trends of modern psychological thought.

There is something, to my mind, profound in the Seals, as though in its inner moulding of significant memory statues, this drawing out of tremendous forms by subtraction of the inessential, Giordano Bruno, the memory artist, were introducing us to the core of the creative act, the inner act which precedes the outer expression.

The work seals I is one of eleven works for solo instruments which form cycle III of “synthetic fragments”.

score excerpt page 3-4

Recording:

2014

Rhizom
for ensemble 
Instrumentation: flute (C/alto/piccolo), soprano saxophone, percussion, piano, cello
Premiere: 30 November 2014, La Caja, Vigo (Spain); Vertixe Sonora Ensemble
Duration: approx. 15 minutes
Commissioned by: Vertixe Sonora Ensemble
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
“A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance. The tree imposes the verb “to be,” but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, “and. . . and.. . and. . .”
So far Deleuze. Subterranean passages of thought: that is what Deleuze and Guttari call a RHIZOME. It tests the intelligent capacity for finding beginnings. A labyrinth without beginning or end: “A non-hierarchic structure of concepts that propagates in all directions and invites to multiplicity.“
When I a few years ago read their book “A Thousand Plateaus” (“Mille plateaux”) I did it enthusiastically even though I may not have completely understood all of the ideas (some are even still quite difficult to understand). But at least some thought images have had a lasting impression. When I started this work I came to think about how their philosophical concept “Rhizome” has gradually become a way for me to think about structures in musical composition (form) and how these structures can communicate itself to listeners.
Rhizom is based on a “predefined book” of rhythmical structures, harmonic progressions and instrumental combinations. In order to try to adhere to the conception of Rhizome it is composed in a non-linear fashion.

score excerpt page 22

Recording of the premiere with Vertixe Sonora Ensemble

2014

breathing
for cello solo 
Instrumentation: cello
Premiere: 14 August 2014, Darmstadt; Alice Purton
Duration: approx. 6 minutes
Score: Contact the composer
Program note:
breathing for prepared cello is the last section (section 10), but the first to be composed, from a much larger work for cello, electronic music and visual performance.
Performed as a solo piece, breathing does not utilize any electronics or video.
The music isn’t intended to illustrate any kind of breathing but to be in itself the “breathing”, in the large scale work as a re-wakening and as a solo piece, the enjoyment of life (breathing gives life!). Structurally the work as a whole and down to its very details is influenced by prime numbers. The reasons for this are manifold. They grow like weeds among the natural numbers, seeming to obey no other law than that of chance, and nobody can predict where the next one will sprout. The second fact is even more astonishing, for it states just the opposite: that the prime numbers exhibit stunning regularity, that there are laws governing their behavior, and that they obey these laws with almost military precision. The stability of the structure, its symmetry and beauty, is the way in which the understanding takes its perceptible form and communicates itself to the listener… to understand something about the material and how, conceptually, music communicates itself to the listener.

“the dichotomy between the very predictable world of mathematics and the almost whimsical nature of prime numbers”

score excerpt page 1

2014

seals I – part 1 of Cycle III from synthetic fragments
version for violin solo 
Instrumentation: violin solo
Duration: approx. 2 minutes

Program note:
The title of this work, seals, comes from the Italian philosopher, mathematician, poet, Dominican friar and astrologer Giordano Bruno (1548 – 1600). Although not widely recognized he is celebrated for his cosmological theories, which went even further than the then-novel Copernican model. Bruno also correctly proposed that the Sun was just another star moving in space, and claimed as well that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds, identified as planets orbiting other stars. Because of his, at the time, radical thinking (including supporting Galileo Galilei) Bruno was forced to leave Italy in 1576, first to France and later to England and Germany. In 1591, in a time when the Inquisition seemed to be losing some of its impetus, and Venice seemed especially safe as it was the most liberal state in Italy; therefore Bruno was lulled into making the fatal mistake of returning to Italy. In 1592 he was arrested by the Venetian Inquisition, sent to Rome and charged of blasphemy and heresy. After 7 years of trial the Inquisition found him guilty, and in 1600 Bruno was burned at stake in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori. Bruno’s case is still considered a landmark in the history of free thought and the future of the emerging sciences.

In addition to his cosmological writings, Bruno also wrote extensively on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles and it is these writings that the title of my piece refer to. Early in 1583, soon after his arrival in England, Bruno published the massive volume on memory which is referred to as Seals, though it really consists of four items, as follows:


     Ars reminiscendi
     Triginta sigilli
     Explanatio triginta sigillorum
     Sigillus sigillorum


So, 30 seals (Triginta sigilli) and the seal of seals (Sigillus sigillorum). What then are these seals? The art of mnemonics tradition, e.g. Fra Agostino del Riccio’s work Arte delle memoria locale (unpublished, but the manuscript exists in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence) uses the idea of presenting the principles and various techniques of the art through little symbolic pictures, with titles. This is exactly what the Seals are, statements of the principles and techniques of the art – but, magicised, complicated with Lullism and Cabbalism, blown up into inscrutable mysteries.

The seals are not confined to any one system. On the contrary Bruno states that he is trying every possible way; perhaps something for which he is not looking may emerge out of this, as alchemists who do not succeed in making gold sometimes hit on other important discoveries. In the later Seals he is trying variations of astrological arrangements, devices of a Lullist nature (or what he supposes to be Lullist), infiltrations of Cabalist magic in the unending search for a really operative organisation of the psyche. And the search always brings in the tricks of the memory trade, the old techniques of which can be recognised in Seal after Seal, though now presented as occult mysteries.
If we drop the word ‘magical’ and think of the efforts of an occult memory artist as directed towards drawing out of the psyhe combinations of ‘archetypal’ images we come within range of some major trends of modern psychological thought.

There is something, to my mind, profound in the Seals, as though in its inner moulding of significant memory statues, this drawing out of tremendous forms by subtraction of the inessential, Giordano Bruno, the memory artist, were introducing us to the core of the creative act, the inner act which precedes the outer expression.

The work seals I is one of eleven works for solo instruments which form cycle III of “synthetic fragments”.

2014

Das Ende eines Wintermärchens – part III of Cycle I from synthetic fragments
for ensemble 
Instrumentation: Bb clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, viola, ‘cello, contrabass
Premiere: April 13, 2014 – Ensemble Aleph in Fontevraud Abbey, France
Duration: 6 minutes
Commissioned by: Ensemble Aleph
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
Das Ende eines Wintermärchens (The End of a Winter’s Tale) takes its title from the third part of
Hans-Jürgen Sybergergs mega-film “ein Film aus Deutschland” (1977).The film that has no clear plot
or chronology , instead, each part explores one particular topic with the third part exploring the
holocaust and the ideology behind it.

Rather than devise a spectacle in the past tense, by attempting to simulate unrepeatable reality or
showing a photographic document, this is a sort of spectacle in the present tense – “adventures in
the head”. Reality can only be grasped indirectly – seen reflected in a mirror, staged in the theater of
the mind.

The music should however not be misinterpreted as crudely illustrative, some (more or less) musical
(symbolic) references are made; like beginning and closing all parts with a silent lonely child, an ironic
mock of the complexity of the subject presented as something simple and also evoking symbolism of
melancholy which musically is referred to by the, seemingly simple, beginning and ending on one
note (G and E respectively). This also acts as a dramatic form of the piece, building an arc from
simplicity – complexity – simplicity in its use of material.

Maybe this music could be viewed upon as “abstract storytelling”, having no real “plot” but
constantly shifting its focus with different gestures, states, and reflections and so on. As said above,
there is a certain dramatic form with a building of material starting with roughly-accented contrabass
harmonics, culminating with the strings + clarinet playing ordered, layered, almost mechanical music
(with each instrument “going through” the 24 quartertones of an octave in its own sequence and
with very exactly defined crescendos and diminuendos), eventually differentiating into more complex
and tangled textures. The music now tries to focus, with a decrease of the harmonic and melodic
material but is once again drawn to a scale using all 24 quartertones in the octave, but this time used
as harmonic material with crescendos, becoming ever shorter and louder. A shift of focus utilizing
multiple gestures and states (like looking at the material at different perspectives) the music finally
stabilize more and more until a single E in violin Is left… seemingly simple but constantly fluctuating
in its inner structure.

Das Ende eines Wintermärchens is the third part in cycle I from the work “synthetic fragments” where cycle I consists of 4 parts, all named after the parts
from Syberbergs film; I – Der gral, II – Ein deutcher traum, III – Das Ende eines Wintermärchens, IV – Wir Kinder der Hölle; A grail, a dream, a tail. Hell.
Dealing with the fascination of Nazism/Fascism, once again starting to grow in the western world, the work itself is truly an antithesis of a Nazi “artwork”; trying to be individual, complex, multidimensional and invite to reflection it would
probably be proscribed as “decadent art”. (“[…], it is the music of the born-again modalists that
wears the jackboots.” – R. Toop, On Complexity).

Recording by Ensemble Aleph

2014

empty space – part 1 of Cycle IV from “synthetic fragments
texts and material examples for structured improvisation 
Instrumentation: percussion, contrabass, (optional live electronics)
Premiere: May 5, 2014 – Núria Andorrà, Johannes Nästesjö
Duration: variable

Recording:

2013

Im Denken unterwegs…
for 1 female flutist and 2 female pianists 
Instrumentation: flute (with ad lib small percussion, piano 1 (with ad lib small percussion,
piano 2 (also 3 temple blocks and 2 crotales (c and c#)
note – all performers should be female
Premiere: to be announced
Duration: approx. 15.5 minutes
Commissioned by: Leomakku Corporation for Ensemble Hakata
Score: Contact the composer

Program note:
Im gemeinen Leben kommen wir mit der Sprache notdürftig fort, weil wir nur oberflächliche Verhältnisse bezeichnen. Sobald von tiefern Verhältnissen die Rede ist, tritt sogleich eine andre Sprache ein, die poetische.
[Göthe]

We write only at the frontmost edge of our knowledge, at the boundary which seperates knowing from unknowing and allows the one to change into the other.
[Gilles Deleuze]

score excerpt page 12-17

2013

Unhörbares hörbar machen – Part II - Hyōshiawazu (拍子不合)
for electronic music 
Instrumentation: electronic music
Premiere: Mars 16, 2013 – @ Saravah in Tokyo
Duration: 6′ 13″

Program note:
The whole underlying structure of this piece is drawn from various features found in Japanese Nō Theatre. There are three types of tempo in Nō (Hiranori, Chūnori and Ōnori) which is articulated by the tripartite structure of this piece, all having its own pace. These three parts are (approximately) divided in the proportions 4733 and 6647 which makes: A = 169 seconds, B = 119 seconds, C = 84,6 seconds.

On the more poetic side the piece is a sort of comment to an imagined Nō play drawing its form, intervals and rhythmic patterns from the Nō piece “Chū no mai” which, as it were, is acting like a sort of “cantus firmus” but only revealing itself the very last seconds.
Material used: Chū no mai (trad. Nō), recordings (wine glasses, scraping on string, knocking on wood), sound synthesis and recordings of works by H. Denerin (Alcheringa, Le theatre du temps, Rotations-Shadows).

Tools used in composition process: Max/MSP 6 (granulation, synthesis, stochastic sound mass, sound freeze and more, all programmed by H. Denerin), IannisX (fractal walk), Ircam’s SPAT (spatialization), Cubase (mixing).

Chart of formal outline with listing of sonic entities of the 21 layers in part 1:

sonicent

Comment:
WORK No.18

Recording:

2009/2010

zeit-raum
for piano solo 
Instrumentation: piano solo (with bells and optional electronics)
passage-plateau-with variation Premiere: 2013-10-16; Sibelius Academy Concert Hall, Helsinki, Finland, Mirka Viitala – piano
The time within Premiere: 2009-04-01; Acadamy of Music in Malmö, Sweden, Fredrick Haglund – piano

Program note:
zeit-raum consists of two parts; the time within and passage-plateau-with variation. Preferably the
parts are performed consecutively. It’s also possible to perform each movement individually.

THE TIME WITHIN explores different relations between time (duration – horizontal) and sound complexes (vertical – group formations – chords). It is composed with the help of IRCAM’s open music. I made a set of rules for how the piece should be formed, variations of application of duration to n notes and a initial probability that certain phenomena should appear or not (e.g. how sound complexes should be formed… completely vertical or in group formations, ornaments etc.). I, so to speak, show the direction of the piece to the program whose function is to map out this direction. One thing that became interesting to me, except the result itself, was to observe how a computer went from being a recalcitrant tool (or maybe my reluctance against the computer) to “open up”.

passage – plateau – with variation
An initial musical object; passing through a sort of passage which continuously rotate and transform it. The path over which the approach is made are, in a sense , arbitrary; and could obviously be many, with passage suggesting a number of possibilities; but it tries to be mobile – always moving towards the centre and searching for a material that is both a flickering interplay of surface gestures and trying to sink below the surface. Arriving at a musical ‘plateau’ the focus has shifted; with the material becoming ‘static’, as it were, exploring time domains. Objects which are folded with memories, breaking time. As the time is speeded up, the material starting to rotate, we move towards the passage once again, with new suggestions, a passage variation, trying to move, successfully or not, from the centre towards outer space.

Recording of passage-plateau-with variation:

Recording of THE TIME WITHIN:

score excerpt page 1-3 of respectively The time within and passage-plateau-with variation

2010

passage-plateau-with variation

for piano solo
SEE zeit-raum

2009

The time within

for piano solo
SEE zeit-raum

2009

Decorated Zither
for male voices 
Instrumentation: Male Choir or Six male solovoices
Premiere: October 11, 2014 – Wrocławscy Kameraliści/Piotr Karpeta

Program note:
The poem ‘Decorated Zither’ by Li Shangyin (813-858) acts like a sort of Cantus Firmus in this piece. The poem itself is a, quite intriguing, love poem, clearly written in a mystical Taoism manner.

The male choir (or six male voices) is divided into 3 groups, surrounding the audience. Group III, standing in front of the audience sings the poem and its tone material is clearly linked to the text as spoken in Chinese. The Bass sings the Cantus Firmus as mentioned above while the Tenor is constantly ‘commenting’ with a expanding and contracting canon. The other 2 groups has 2 clear functions; one being the exploration and representation of the of language or a voyage of language as it were. The second being the gradual transformation from noise to sound in group I and the opposite in group II.

Formally the piece can be divided into 8 different sections; all with different lengths, rhythmic speeds and dynamic envelopes, and so on, but still interlinked and derived from the text trying to draw an organic form.

Comment:
WORK No.15

TEXT:

(simplified Chinese)

锦瑟无瑟五十弦,
一弦一柱思华年。
庄生晓梦迷蝴蝶,
望帝春心托杜鹃。
沧海月明珠有泪,
蓝田日暖玉生烟。
此情可待成追忆,
只是当时已枉然。

(English translation by Qiu Xiaolong)

A decorated zither, for no reason, is made of fifty strings –
one string, one peg, each reminiscent of the youthful years. . .
Waking in the morning, Master Zhuang wonders whether he dreams of being a butterfly,
or a butterfly dreams of being Master Zhuang.
Wangdi, an ancient emperor, poured out his grief into the cuckoo cries in the spring.
A pearl holds its tears
against the bright moon on the blue ocean;
a jade-induced mist arises under the warm sun over Liantian field. . .
Oh, this feeling, to be recollected later in memories, is already confused.

score excerpt

2009

Rotations-Shadows
electronic music 
Instrumentation: electronic music (for 8 speakers)(mix for 5.1 and a stereomix exists)
Premiere: 2009-03-23; Malmö Acadamy of Music, Sweden
Duration: 21′ 41″

Program note:
ROTATIONS – The piece consists of 48 different voices whish all has its own shape, range, dynamic envelope, sound composition, tempo and rhythm. Every one of these voices rotates at different speeds around the room; the slowest taking 21 minutes for one rotation, the fastest 0.5 seconds. An unbelievable room-polyphony is created. Obviously not all 48 voices are heard all the time, but in the most dense part, at 15 minutes, they all come together.

SHADOWS – “As the ideas are the principal forms of things, according to which all is formed … so we should form in us the shadows of ideas … so that they may be adaptable to all possible formations. We form them in us, as in the revolution of wheels. If you know any other way, try it.” (Giordano Bruno: Shadows (De umbris idearum))

Comment:
The different voices in ROTATIONS-SHADOWS where all created from one original melody with the use of IRCAM open music, mainly with different scale objects applied both vertically and horizontally. The sounds where created with Csound and the spatializing with IRCAM Spatialisateur.

Under Heaven is a cycle consisting of 7 parts, each for different kinds of ensembles. They are all composed of the same material and using similar ways of forming. This, however, does not mean that they don’t have a personality but only belong to different cultures – different ways of growing.

Recording excerpt:

2009

mnēmoneuein
quartet 
Subtitle: Six Tones version
Instrumentation: trio (dan tranh, dan bau, dan ty ba)+ computer(live-electronics)
Premiere: 28 Mars 2009; Nybrokajen 11, Stockholm/SwedenSix Tones – Thanh Thuy, Ngo Tra My, Stefan Östersjö, Henrik Frisk

Program note:
mnēmoneuein (prin khronisthēnai)
the act to remember (takes place when time has passed)

This piece is about memory. Memory as recollection, as trace; memory that reviews – memory that repeats. Two extreme forms of memory, each regarded in their pure state, but also as a transitory form, as a compound phenomenon that emanates from their amalgamation. A transition from the virtual to the actual.

But also about imagination and the border line between them. A concealed object that is brought forth by the act of remembering and by imagination.

Video below is from Atalante in Gothenburg/Sweden 2009-04-01

Recording from Babel in Malmö/Sweden 2009:

full score

2007

Scritto x1
for ensemble 
Instrumentation: cl, pno, vln, vlc
Premiere: 2007-05-14; Acadamy of Music in Malmö, Sweden
Jonas Losciale – clarinet, Fredrick Haglund – piano,Alexandra Hjortswang – violin, Gustav Ölmedal – cello
Duration: ca 7′

Program note:
This piece is mainly about perception, walking through three perceptive categories: the active – the medial – the passive. The path over which the approach is made could obviously be many and here I attempt to suggest a number of possibilities. In attempting to try to do something which could (platitudinously) be termed “clearly musical” one has to find a material that can both be a flickering interplay of surface gestures and sink below the surface. This web tries to be constantly mobile – always moving towards the center.

2006

VINGT-CINQ
for viola 
Instrumentation: viola with live electronics (4 channel)
Premiere: 2006-10-10; Jeriko, Mamlö/Sweden
Markus Falkbring – Viola, Henrik Denerin – live electronics

Program note:
Tautology – The common tendency is obvious enough, but it is also a narrative in the sense that its language is directly related to states of consciousness of a first-person narrator. The text can be read as a metaphor for life: as a movement toward the unknown point of death. Another aspect reveals itself in the inescapable impression that the totality of the text is apprehended like fragments out of a context that cannot be reconstructed and for whose existence there is no evidence in what is literally said. Certain formulations arise that elicit unreachable memories, as it were, memories of contexts that cannot be reconstructed. So, content, a story after all? As little of this as of purely abstract composition. A little of both.
Comment:
VINGT-CINQ is dedicated to Gertrud Heinerud and was written for her 25th birthday.

2006 – revised 2012

Alcheringa
for string orchestra 
Instrumentation: String orchestra (9 vln, 3 vla, 2 vlc, 1 cb)
Premiere: 2006-12-01; Concert Hall, Växjö/SwedenMusica Vitae/Michael Bartosch
Duration: ca 9′
Program note:
Alcheringa is the term for the creation of the world as perceived by the Aborigines. This concept can be explained as an extra dimension of life, a dimension that has part in time, room and humans personality. Alcheringa is all that we in other religions denotes as divine. The form is a sort of mirror with two gestures spreading out through the piece. The gestures is composed as a micro-polyphony, and thus becomes both still and mobile at the same time. Small “alien objects” are inserted acting as pre-echoes to the rest of the cycle.
Comment:
Under Heaven is a cycle consisting of 7 parts, each for different kinds of ensembles. They are all composed of the same material and using similar ways of forming. This, however, does not mean that they don’t have a personality but only belong to different cultures – different ways of growing.

full score (2012 version)