Commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk
The title Doubles describes the basic impulse of the piece: The experience of instrumental sound as on one hand a system of harmony, inherited from the tonal era and distributed in the tempered system of pitch, and on the other hand as sonic event, where the instruments express sound as a physical fact, in a continuum of microtonality and degrees of noise.
When I listen to acoustic instruments, I am always intrigued by this double identity. My interest in this duality is probably one of the reasons why most of my output is for instrumental ensembles. I try to always confront the 'self' of the musical instrument with its doppelgänger as sounding object. This quest sometimes lead to 'new' playing techniques, but mostly I try to gently hack instrumental sound in order to reveal a sort of instrumental unconscious.
In Doubles, tempered pitch is continuously confronted with non-tempered sound, creating a sonic world I hope can be described as 'vaguely familiar'. Or, to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, as something rich and strange. Instruments often play singular, sustained sounds, sounds that I hear as timbral sculptures exsisting in a multidimentional soundspace. These strains of sounds meet in larger constellations of timbre, sometimes bordering on recognizeable harmony, moving slowly through the time-space of performance.
The structural backbone of the piece is a succession of very simple harmonies (a series of chromatic mediants, in theoretic lingo). These harmonic relationships are always challenged by emergent microtonality arising through multiphonics, non-tempered percussion and de-tuned instruments. The brass instruments mostly play natural overtones that deviate in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways from tempered pitches, creating turbulence when confronted with the simple harmonic structure that underlies the piece. The recurring harmonic succession (almost like a chaconne in analytic terms) governs the formal development of the piece, as it transforms through different phases. Most of the music develops slowly, organically, with passing episodes of pulse and recurring attempts at establishing a melodic line – a melody that, when it finally breaks through the timbral surface, is just as unstable as the harmonic system it emerges from.
- Doubles by Eivind Buene premieres at Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik
- 22nd March 2023
- New work by Norwegian composer Eivind Buene premieres by Klangforum Wien