Studie II for solo cello & electronics (2015)

“Studie II” is for solo cello and electronics and the piece was written during the summer of 2015 and revised in late 2015. The piece is more virtuosic than “Studie I”, and the performer is in the role of a traditional soloist. The first concept for this composition was to use a tone as an anchor for the piece. At first the tone is a G, and then a melody comes along being played as double stops physically by the cellist. Later on in the piece, the tones that are presented in new sections will then be played by the electronics as they’re not necessarily possible to play as a double stop. The point with this was to set a physical gesture as a compositional point as explored by Jodblowski. When the same concept returns it is played by the electronics but the listener should still have that picture of a single physical gesture giving it meaning as well as bringing the piece closer to the centripetal model meaning that there is a clear causal relationship.

The electronics here play a much more active and almost contrapuntal role than in “Studie I”. In addition to the electronic notes, the electronics include a spectral delay and distortion. These electronic processes and the use of bow overpressure are the main elements that contribute a narrative form with tension/release instead of functional harmony. Originally, I had thought of using saturation instead of distortion, but I found out by practicing with cellists that the output of the saturation plug-ins was often still too clean, and not noisy enough for what I imagined.

The electronics were also meant to be much more actively used although this idea was later abandoned as explained in the first concert section. One of the more interesting aspects of this piece is that the electronics are partly fixed media (the tones that are played), yet there is also a lot of live processing. The electronics’ role varies throughout the piece sometimes being coequal, causal or an extension of the instrument (Frengel, 2010). Because of how tightly synced and connected the acoustics and electroacoustics are, I believe that this piece is perhaps the one where the blend between both worlds is best approached.

The scalar and thematic material is once again taken from overtones of several notes, but the writing is far from being anything close to spectralism, and was just used to have an abnormal scale. Extended techniques such as flautando, bow overpressure and changes between sul ponticello and sul tasto were also first tested in this piece. These techniques became a mainstay of my writing for string instruments after this composition. The inspiration of these techniques comes primarily from the solo cello piece “Petals” (1988) by Kaija Saariaho which I had analyzed over the summer as well as Brian Ferneyhough’s writings.

MaxMSP schematics.

Recorded with Astri Hoffmann-Tollaas at NTNU in Spring 2016. Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Mathieu Lacroix.



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