Trash of Civilizations
The Spawn of Abe 28:11
Bb Clarinet: Max Christie
Oboe: Mark Rogers
CPU: MC Maguire
Narcissus auf Bali 39:53
Vibraphone: Trevor Tureski
Marimba: Ryan Scott
CU MC Maguire
The Spawn of Abe
The origin of the Double Concerto ‘the Spawn of Abe’(2008) derives from an earlier work called ‘The Bride of Palestine’, commissioned by Vancouver’s Standing Wave in 1995 (British Columbia Cultural Fund). The previous formal outline and Klezmer influences have been expanded into a piece that explores the cultural and historic juxtapositions of the three monotheistic religions, which find their roots in the Abrahamic narrative. Inside this biblical story, is an interpretive tradition that Abraham’s sons became the founding spawn of Judaism and it’s later sect, Christianity (Isaac) and Islam (Ishmael), < The new piece adds a rival Arabic oboe to the original virtuosic Klezmer clarinet part (dumping the previous other instruments)..> All three religious traditions end in a prophetic, apocalyptic, sibling rivalry, only to be saved from complete annihilation by a Deus ex Machina, Messianic figure.
The sample material for this piece collides, Ivesian-like, the incantations of mullahs rabies, and priests, with the singing of cantors, muezzins and Gregorian Chants, Al-Qaeda ditties, a Bin Laden cameo, American/Jewish comedians, Klezmer bands, Arab pop music, bars in Tel Aviv, the streets of Cairo, air raid sirens, jets, helicopters, and a large previously under-utilized war sounds library (the three battle scenes make this an all-in-one inclusive pre/mid/post trib, sans rapture narrative, if one was looking for an eschatology allegory).
The piece is divided into 7 movements. The pitch structure rests compulsively on a C# tonic from which a C# Arabic and C# Jewish scale intertwine along with a Phrygian C# scale (representing Christianity). On top of this tonic are the 7 keys utilizing C#, only in a chord progression that is reduced/restored and repeated--forwards, retrograde, and inversion, with expanding and shrinking chord cells (all the chords are pre-mapped on a large harmonic rhythm chart). It is from these expanding and contracting units is derived the Carteresque rhythmic modulations of the instruments, the 2/3-3/2 tempo changes, and the seemingly endless accels. and rits.
Narcissus auf Bali
‘Narcissus auf Bali’ was originally a ballet commission (1997) from the Vancouver choreographer Lee Su-Feh of Battery Opera (The work went on to win the Choregraphiques Internationales of Paris in 1999) and was generously supported by Canada Council and the BC Cultural Fund. The title is a post-modern twist on the classical, grandiose names ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’ or ‘Iphigenia auf Tauris’. Only here, the work roughly follows the narrative of the Greek myth ‘Narcissus and Echo’, deep into the jungles of Bali.
In 2007, I rewrote/remixed the piece as a Double Concerto for Vibes, Marimba and CPU, the oriental timbres of the vibes and marimba complimenting the sampled gamelan orchestral sounds throughout the piece. <In truth, the real reason for reworking the music was
embedded in its original structure –a long Elgar / Holst / Vaughn-Williams/ Britten, (English), pan diatonic, slow climax.>
The piece has many layers that are constantly referencing one another as well as articulating the structure:
Formally, the music also steals the concept of ‘Echo’ in resembling a double-reverse palindrome (no, not the high dive!). The pitch and harmonic structures are based on the choreographers’ favorite Balinese ditty rendered here in Bb (the tonic), that was further transformed into a 24 note pitch-set (P., I., RI.) The works’ verticality is subdivided into 49 sections. Each section based on a ‘contrary scale’ (higher then lower from the tonic) moving away to the fifth then returning to the tonic, then to the octave then returning again to the tonic. The tempo of each section is based on the movements’ sample transposition from the tonic, while the lengths of the sections are constantly expanding and contracting (accordion-like) from 2 measures to 96 measures long (2,3,4,6,8,12 etc). Further underlying the spirit of Echo, the surface of the score is laced with reverse echoes and exact, dying (yet transfiguring) repetitions.
* From the Greek myth, the Greek concept of Air, Fire, Earth, Water becomes the natural aural background for the piece. * The myths’ allegory of the transmutation from living things to the inanimate which is further stretched from natures’ sublime harmony evolving into, or in conflict with, urban, industrial noise. This transmutation also characterizes the music morphing into various styles. * The choreographer is reading the myth in Chinese. * The works’ Gamelan vortex increasingly appropriates all things oriental (Godzilla, Tibetan monks, Martial-Art movies, Chinese fish markets, Peking Opera, Noh Drama etc.) which are then pitted against all things western and/or pop. * Paralleling Narcissus and Echo’s relationship, there is a modern day picnic in the woods involving a self-absorbed male and his overly compliant, robotic girlfriend.
Engineer: Brian Nevin
Assistant: Dajaun Martineau
Design: Caroline Mosby