PAVILLONS EN L' AIR for tuba, percussion and tape. 1989. Commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for Scott Irvine and Beverley Johnston. 13 minutes.
PAVILLONS EN L' AIR for double bass and tape. 1989. 13 minutes. Score/parts and DAT tape available through PROMETHEAN EDITIONS.
Although in musical parlance this is an instruction of French horn players to raise the bell of the instrument, it is the surrealist imagery of the literal rendering of the term which has inspired the composition of this piece. Pavillons En l' Air is a sequence of "floating" sound structures dissolving into one another, re-emerging and dissolving again. Two version of the piece exist: the original one for tuba and percussion and a subsequent for double bass and percussion. In both versions the percussion and tape parts are identical, whereas the tuba and double bass parts differ considerably.
More often than not the tuba and double bass are stereotyped as
sluggish, unpoetic, mainly support-role instruments. In Pavillons
En l' Air, however, both instruments constantly explore their
individual identity, in the case of the tuba with the use of multiple
sonorities (singing and playing at the same time) and in the case
of the double bass with the extensive use of an array of special
effects (harmonics and other non-conventional sounds). They are
pitted against high shakuhachi and Japanese percussion
sounds in the tape part. The tape represents an idealized sound
world which the live instruments try to reach and in so doing
they are constantly engaged in pushing their upper register to
the limit. In sections of the piece in which the rhythmic element
is particularly pronounced, I have returned to a compositional
technique which I have not used for almost ten years consisting
of mapping harmonic rations onto rhythm and thus creating phasing
rhythmic patterns. Pavillons En l' Air is the first piece
of an electroacoustic tetralogy called Quaternio (also
see: The Birth of Venus, From the Vanishing Gardens of Eden and
Of Threads and Labyrinths).
I was thrilled to hear the tape. Your music sounds fresh, original, with lots of attention to detail, but at the same time easy flowing. I was especially impressed with Pavillons En l' Air.
Saul Bitran, Cuarteto Latinoamericano (USA/Mexico)
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