for saxophone quartet
I composed this piece as all-encompassing landscapes, in which the continuous flow of the graphics reaches streaming of sounds, and the instruments collectively contribute in sonifying the whole picture.
Seascapes invites the performers to develop and establish sonic materials for interpreting the graphics. The performers may collaboratively work to determine appropriate timbre and techniques for the gestures. The size and placement of the shapes on the staves decide on their dynamic, pitch/register, and duration. There are no individual parts, and performers read through the score, aided by an in-ear click track.
I realized how responsive the graphics are without further explanation in defining their distinct character and indicating concepts that we deliver with words and symbols in standard notation, such as the variations of loudness or softness. This graphical notation affords possibilities that may not be achieved within the commonly used system and suggest a literal interpretation of timbral qualities. It opens the door to creative thinking and collaborative efforts among the performers. Ultimately the music that, as a result of exercising this work, is produced is a personal reflection of every performer involved and their creative contribution —a collective arrangement of the visual landscapes.
In my procedure of constructing this composition, I reimagined my approach to orchestration, counterpoint, and harmony, from the typical styles in the Western classical to contemporary repertoire, which I had similarly practiced in my previous chamber and orchestral works. You may notice many such events, like melodic lines in the form of canon, from imitation and doubling to mirroring and retrogradation.
The notation invites creative interactive engagement of performers, with flexibility in specific tones and timbres. Denser graphical gestures indicate an accumulation of instrumental sounds with changes in dynamic, register, and rhythm while leaving specific pitch choices open. Other, sparser ones, specify precise pitch and rhythmic contours. At times, layers branch and rejoin one another to show the splitting and merging of audible streams. Time is proportional to the horizontal position. The graphics are sorted into airy, percussive, scraping, metallic, wooden, polyphonic, and semi-melodic categories.
My engagement with drawing from an early age and fascination I developed over the years, particularly in my early 20s for the masterpieces of Jackson Pollock, his life and legacy led to my graphic notation experimental practice for a certain period. I visited MoMA and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2018, and it ignited my mind to encounter a collection of extraordinary artworks of contemporary times.
For instance, for the first gestures introduced (below), I heard multiphonics: unstable, constant pitch changes by altering the lip-tension and LH fingering; varying overtones and the harmonic content, short glissandi, portamenti, relatively soft dynamics, low register, with a breathy quality.
The following gesture may be interpreted as key clicks: random, rapid, loud/soft dynamics, with various timbral qualities depending on where they are located on the staff.