Counterpointing texts

I’m trying to use this blog to jot down quick thoughts at the moment. Don’t worry, the long rants will stay, but I’m going to see if I can fill in the gaps between them with shorter reflections that document the development of my thinking about pieces I’m working on – for the benefit of my PhD.

So, at the moment I’m thinking about the texts I’m using in Si el clima. As part of the ‘tape’ component, there will be a number of spoken text parts chosen from the following books: Marx’s Ecology by John Bellamy Foster, Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould, and The Diversity of Life by E. O. Wilson. I haven’t decided yet who will speak the parts, but they won’t be professional voice actors… Probably just musicians and activists I know. In addition, there will be a separate line for Chavez’s speech at Copenhagen 2011 after which the piece is named (I’m using the recording of the speech itself, in all its lo-fi glory).

Anyway, the issues I wanted to raise were these:

There’s the fear that the introduction of such scientific texts could detract from the musical flow and aesthetic experience. All the better!

There’s the concern that the simultaneous deployment of 3 or 4 texts, plus a dense piano part, plus tape piano lines, could just end in an indistinct mush, not so much complex as a vast murky texture. I think this is more of an important concern. I think that at one or two points in the piece I will push it to this extreme, but it’s the step or two before then that interest me: how to deploy these spoken vocal lines alongside the music in a way that allows for a degree of both integration into the musical flow (since their separateness will be assured), and of delineation and distinction between themselves?

I think that my construction of the spoken parts will centre on creating internal coherence for each line along two axes: firstly, the conceptual one (each text will be selected according to particular concepts or themes), and the musical one. On the latter axis, the question will be giving character to each line by way of: phrase length, kind of articulation, speed of movement across virtual space, and so on…

More on this soon!