VISIONS DES REFLETS ET NOCTURNES
I composed the first seven sections of Visions des reflets et nocturnes (Visions of reflections and nocturnes) in 2016-2017. Though still working on completing the entire work with numerous additional sections, I have released these first seven sections of Visions as together they sufficiently satisfy my standard for a complete and meaningful musical statement. This seemingly counterintuitive and contradictory attitude (How can something incomplete be considered complete?), no doubt derives in my mind and ear from the use and development of extended moment form throughout the work.
The notion of moment form was first introduced by Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) in Kontakte (1958-60). Essentially moment form consists of the stringing together of independent musical components, gestures, or structures, but which are not developmentally related or perceived as a part of linear or directed motion. The key concepts in moment form are threefold: (1) each moment is a formal unit that is self-contained and has an immediately recognizable character; (2) the time frame for each moment is indeterminate, i.e., the moment can be as short or as long as needed; and (3) directed motion (moving to and from climaxes and structural downbeats) is not a factor in construction of moments and moment sequences. The ultimate aim of moment form was to explore ways of structuring sound that did not rely on, indeed contradicted, traditional concepts of time and directed motion.
I absorbed and adapted this compositional approach in my own work but rejected the foundational principle of intentional dismissal of directed motion. For me, directed motion is an absolute necessity in my music, and this traditional aesthetic finds its way into my music on many different levels. My extended moment form is essentially a collection of small forms, interconnected in continuous variation, with cross-relationships deriving intentionally, subconsciously or randomly, the spinning out of which aims to discover and expose one or more ìspecial momentsî, which in traditional terms might be thought of as ìclimaxesî, but which for me are not always necessarily so. Indeed, a special moment might be a moment of extreme calm, reflection and introspection.
Each section is preceded and followed by a short poetic descriptive phrase in French. The Preludes of Debussy come to mind where the composer lists the title of the piece at the end, but not as a literal description. These are the seven sections of Visions included in this volume:
- I. Premier reflet feuilles en baisse (First reflection falling leaves)
- II. Un petit morceau de nocturne cassÈ (A little piece of a broken nocturne)
- III. Montage en blanc et noir (Montage in black and white)
- IV. Un esprit solitaire triste et joyeux (A lone spirit sad and joyous)
- V. Feux follets des courants (Wisps of currents)VI. Estampes en dehors et en bas (Engravings outside and below)
- VII. FenÍtre des souvenirs (Window of remembrances)
As these titles might suggest, Visions des reflets et nocturnes can be thought of as a kind of dreamscape which reflects introspective and subconscious musings in a kind of ìstream of consciousnessî. In this work, I continue to explore integrating traditional tonal language with more experimental approaches to pitch construction. As for using titles and phrases in French, doing so has helped me to recapture and continue working in the creative cocoon that I so enjoyed during my years in Paris.