An Invention in Two Voices
(long version: duration 4'33")

Clip of Invention

(fragment from the cadenza)

This is the first in a series of pieces which explores the possibility of a new
kind of contrapuntal music; it expresses something—in music then—of
what I have tried to say in words in the previous set of miniatures,
12 Metaphysical Miniatures: On Simplicity, Complexity
and Human Design
. Its key features are a back and forth or
complementarity of the following four descriptive concepts:

(a) degree of relative autonomy or independence of the voices: Just as
in a Bach invention, the voices are musically identical, but, in contrast to their
Baroque counterparts, much more free in the way they "feel about" musical
time-space. Interesting for performers is that there are no chords. Again, much
like Bach: a voice is just that, ie, a single, singing, flowing movement of sound.
A voice may be extended in complexity instrumentally, but always returns
to the a kind primal simplicity of the pure, solitary line.

(b) texture: simplicity  >>>  complexity  >>>  simplicity
(few notes (at the same time) /  very many notes  /  few notes(and much silence))

(c) density: low  >>>  high  >>>  low
(few notes (in succession) /  very many notes  /  few notes(and much silence))

This is important for each voice individually, but also for both collectively.

(d) balance: yin (or feminine:  intricate, legato, dark)  >>>  yang

(or masculinee:  assertive, marcato, bright)  >>>  neutral  (motionless)

The piece moves from beginning to end in just this way.

Computer Models: Concerning this particular computer model
of the this version of the Invention:

   | listen to version for keyboard An Invention in Two Voices (REQUIRES QuickTime) |

   | listen to version for vibraphone and marimba An Invention in Two Voices | 

Despite the lack of dynamic contrast, articulation, and especially
legato—what I find remarkable is that the rhythms are played
entirely without artificial 'beat' accents. This means that you hear a
completely smooth transition from fast to slow to fast, which makes for
a mysterious serpentine, sinuous quality of movement. (Listen to how
the cadenza for the right hand, in the middle of the piece, is played.) This
is something I've worked on over the years with many different performers.
It is really a problem of awareness or of how we listen. To hear inwardly
the pattern of stresses or accents, or lack there of, and then project
it clearly into space. One might contemplate the fact, that, even though
the computer does not, in my view, possess the slightest trace of
natural intelligence, (mechanical intellect, yes, but not intelligence)
the sounds one can sometimes coax out of it can perhaps awaken a
feeling for the new and unknown in even the most experienced
and sensitive of performers.

The Invention is dedicated to the Dutch composer and philosopher, Jos Kunst,
mentor and friend, who passed away in 1995, and who was one of Holland's
more striking and original intellectuals. I remember, when I was a very young
conductor back in 1974, new to the Lowlands, looking for repertory to build
a new kind of orchestra for new music, after days of going through score after
score in the library of DONEMUS—the Dutch music publisher (now with MGN,
Muziek Groep Nederland)—I came upon one piece that made quite an impression
on me: One Way. I had never seen anything like it. That was Jos Kunst. I was
fortunate enough to perform the piece three years later, together with most of
the other chamber music of his, with the ASKO Ensemble. Our paths parted
both musically and intellectually around the middle of the 80's, but I've never
forgotten some of the things I learned during those years we worked
intensively together.

Listen to the Première of An Invention for Two Voices
—for vibraphone and marimba, score | pdf
performed by Joeke Hoekstra and Niels Meliefste,
at the Royal Conservatory, The Hague, the Netherlands.
Special thanks to Marc Zoutendijk for the recording. [c. 5' 30"]

Text © 2000 Cliff Crego   Comments to
(createde: I.16.2000) (Last update: III.7.2002/XI.22.2011)