Ich schreite kaum... (2007)


Program Notes

     Immediately preceding the "Transformation Music" in Act I of Wagner's Parsifal, the hero and the Grail knight Gurnemanz engage in a most cryptic exchange:

Parsifal: Scarce have I moved a pace, [ich schreite kaum]
             And it seemeth me I am already far.

Gurnemanz: See, my son,
             To space here time doth change.

     This metaphysical concept suggests the elusive interaction of movement and stasis: time (linearity/a state of becoming) convenes with space (nonlinearity/a state of being).  I am intrigued that distance is seemingly measured in a nonteleologic space where time is virtually subsumed into a timeless dimension; so intrigued, in fact, that in such a dimension I believe the opposite of Parsifal's statement to be true as well:

Parsifal: Many steps (from the German Schritte and schreiten)
            I have taken,
            and yet it seemeth I have scarcely moved
            (own textual adaptation)

     In this work, this state of becoming convening with a state of being is reflected in the unfolding of the two ever-present, delicately unobtrusive and understated concertante parts: there is, in fact, only one fundamental line that becomes two when it is set in invertible counterpoint against itself. Together, these parts form a musical backbone unfolding as three isorhythmic canonic cancrizans that, theoretically at least, are and move in an ad infinitum state of being.

     Due to the structural musical circularity of the concertante parts, the "musical" steps taken on this aural Möbius Strip seem to "borrow" from music already heard or destined to be heard in the other part.  Such "borrowing" of material informs both micro and macro levels of Ich schreite kaum.  'Parody' technique is central in articulating the architectural design of the work as the concertante line(s) played throughout serve(s) as the pre-existing composite melody that forms the basis for subsequent sections.  The underlying 'chant' melody, first heard in conjunction with a fundamental chordal progression from which it and all proportional, rhythmic, melodic and harmonic relationships are derived, unfolds by itself in an extended passage.  Thereafter it is orchestrated, mostly maintaining its two-voice texture, becoming a timbral 'motet' of a most delicate fabric.  This 'motet', in turn, along with the constantly unfolding concertante part(s), then serves as the substance for the six-sectioned 'Mass': principle contrapuntal motifs are drawn from a textural ritornello that prefigures each section in which textures range from two to eight voices.

     Ich schreite kaum seeks to make quietude audible and consistently demands extremely soft dynamic markings where the musical steps taken frequently border on the inaudible.  In search of this space I am reminded of the last line of Jorge Luis Borges' Boast of Quietness: "I walk slowly, like one who comes from so far away he doesn't expect [hope] to arrive."