In Peter Brook’s 1979 film Meetings with Remarkable Men there is a scene in which musicians will attempt to produce a sound that will make the stones of a valley vibrate. In this re-enacting of a famous scene from Gurdieff’s memoires, Kudsi Erguner is one of the musician-actors performing on the screen. In the movie (and in the book), it is in fact a singer that finally succeeds at this, not the Ney. Oneirology 2 can perhaps be regarded as the ultimate attempt to amend this 42-year-old “failure” and enable Erguner’s Ney to finally accomplish this mythical task of producing a music with sounds that will eventually set a complete mountain valley into total vibration, this time in cooperation with van Dillen’s electronics/digitalics.
In our days, the world seems to be coming apart, coming apart again, we may be tempted to think, as humanity seems to have dealt with this before in the past. Indeed, there have been many past ages in which prophets of a kind have proclaimed the end of the world, with solutions offered within the context of their beliefs, mostly irrational solutions to irrational problems. Apocalyptic visions have thus helped establish many a tyrant in history. People that do not distinguish between belief and knowledge are tempted to believe that the current crises modern Science describes are no different from similar historical situations. There are vital differences however, among which the rational nature of the problem descriptions. Most importantly, this time we can objectively observe the crises in progress: today we are facing real and planetary existential threats, not just to ourselves, but to most life.
Myrmecology consists of a variety of simultaneous rhythms, working as polyrhythms, in six proportional tempi. These rhythms make up a variety of cycles by means of moving, changing, and developing, ostinati. Furthermore, these polyrhythms are enhanced by use of both binary (also quaternary at times) and ternary feel, as well as of microtiming. Microtiming is the rhythmic equivalent of the harmonic concept Microtuning, but the first is related to minute but precisely controlled differences in timing. The inspiration for this treatment of rhythm and polyrhythm can be found in various worldwide music traditions originally stemming from the African continent, many of which are using rhythm and (micro)timing as a means of emotional expression, as opposed to other traditions using (micro)tuning systems and/or harmony for emotional expression. Rhythm in this way becomes a polyphony in its own right, and in Myrmecology this is explored, over its two hours duration.
The title Elude is derived from the verb to elude = to avoid cunningly or adroitly (Penguin Reference 2001), which has as noun the word elusion. However, the composer chose to create for this music the new noun Elude, in assonance to Prelude and words like it, such as Postlude, Interlude etc. Therefore, as pre-lude means fore-play, inter-lude in-between-play, and post-lude means after-play, thus e-lude means outside-play. This music plays outside of and around tonal, modal and atonal systems, even outside a single style, and enters and leaves such musics at will, never completely bound to each set of formulas and conventions. It is precisely therefore that there are 12, each in its unique key signature, and not 24, as in keys (major and minor set apart), as is the case in similar keyboard collections by Bach, Chopin and Shostakovich. The 12 Eludes each have their own way of playing outside of mode and key, using a simple, technically mostly 2-voice based, setting.
The source of the sounds one hears on this album is the very recently developed chaotic oscillator synthesizer Generate by Newfangled Audio, a very complex instrument, at times difficult to control precisely, at other times, in many simultaneous complex instances, threatening to overload the computer, and behaving unpredictably. Some of the unexpected side effects of the complex sound synthesis have been preserved in the end result. A small palette of carefully self-built just manageable sounds (patches) has been used in all three compositions. The complex sound sometimes resembles “real instruments” such as cello, trombone and (contra)bassoon, or bass clarinet, but this is an illusion, as can be heard when it moves through various registers: these are all purely synthetic sounds.
Listening to this music by van Dillen resembles entering a sound exhibition, the composition presents itself to the listener as a kind of sculpture, but not to be viewed from the outside, but to be heard and experienced from the inside. A sculpture maybe, but not in the sense of presenting itself as an object to a subjective listener to be viewed while moving around it, but as a subject moving around the listener thus turning the listener into an object, even an object of scrutiny too perhaps. One finds oneself in a large musical form, a large timespan, surrounded by slow changes of and within a many layered sounding substance. Sound objects and substance float by, partly in a predictable (slow transitions) and partly in an unpredictable (sudden events) manner. The sounds, the polychromatic, also microtonal, elements chosen, are mostly subtle and generally varied, but at the same time strictly limited to the precisely chosen palette of timbres. The silences embedded are integral part of the work and not to be seen as mere breaks between sections: in the silences, the music continues unbroken.
Genomes takes the idea behind Pulsations (from Dronescape 1) to a next level, distilling a far greater variety of sounds from the very same core samples which resembled heartbeats. It is solely composed of rhythmically used elements. The listener enters a hypnotic timescape, possibly evoking the inner sounds of some primeval soup containing amino acids, rhythmically bubbling, but then again a scraping breath is heard, and later some mechanical sounds, the latter probably referring to a less distant time. Emanations is composed from a set of 9 chords recorded on a Yamaha CFX concert grand piano, with various tunings, playing techniques, and recording positions. As to the latter, some chords were recorded with microphones close (close miked) and others distant with a more room sound, with more distant microphones. The full set of chords was recorded both una corda and tre corde.
In music, a drone (or bourdon) is understood to be a continuous sound, interval or chord, usually an accompaniment to a modal structure (melodic music based on a particular scale). Special instruments exist, dedicated to playing the drone only, such as the tanpura and the swar peti from India. Instruments are found all over the world that include drones within the melodic instruments themselves, such as the taraf strings on many Asian string instruments, but also the drone pipes next to the chanter in bagpipes, or the hurdy gurdy, and its predecessor the organistrum with their drone strings. Aboriginal didgeridoo music can be considered to consist purely of a rhythmized drone. Traditionally, drones with their sustained pitches are used as a harmonic support to the melodic music performed. In the Dronescapes by van Dillen the music itself has become rhythmized drone and soundscape at the same time, foregoing the traditional compositional hierarchies of theme and accompaniment, by using the following musical elements, in order of prominence: 1. sound 2. harmony 3. rhythm 4. melody.
In our 21st century it is becoming apparent that the bigger the cities, the more insurmountable their problems seem, and the less of these are actually resolved, often not even short-term any longer. Recent research shows that although cities have serious problems, they also offer the greatest opportunities, and surprisingly, the actual percentage of serious problems is often smaller the bigger the cities are: there are in general significant differences in our perception of the cities’ problems as compared to the actual problems. The city can therefore be regarded in both its aspects, on the one hand being both rich in opportunities, in mosaics of subcultures, containing a large variety of people, and on the other hand being rich in risks and dangers at the same time. All these considerations, as well as the City’s Janus Bifrons (or Dr. Jekyll – Mr. Hyde) aspects have been used in the music of de Stad.
OIJ Records was founded July 2020. It is a record label dedicated to publishing recordings of the compositions by Oscar van Dillen. Since its inception OIJ Records became a sublabel to Donemus records Composers’ Voice series. Thanks to this collaboration, all albums are distributed to: 7Digital Akazoo Amazon Anghami Apple …Continue reading →