beata viscera (2008)

The title is from a monophonic conductus by Perotin.

Beata- 'blessed';
viscera- 'guts', 'organs', 'viscera', or more figuratively, as in the original text, 'womb' (in Perotin's case, the 'blessed womb' of the Virgin Mary. Here, less so).

In this piece, the piano's body acts as a resonant chamber where the entirety of the instrumental sound is focused and blended. There is a concerted attempt to strip sound of its rhetorical function- instead of a metaphor of 'communication,’ something closer to 'sculpture', though sculpture with a kind of fluid, or plasma.

Throughout, three types of tunings (just, resonant, beating) are specified, which produce varying degrees of stability or instability in the overall sound-field as the piece unfolds, and establish a continuum that runs smoothly from rhythmic pulsation to beating to pure tone.

Fundamentally, this music grows from a refusal to acknowledge the apparent separateness of the individual instruments, or even the individual people playing them. Instead, they're related like the fingers of a hand, or the limbs and organs of a single body.

instrumentation: fl. (alto, picc), cl. (bcl.), trumpet, percussion, piano, violin, cello
duration: 19'
date: 2008

score excerpt