Helge Sten (Deathprod), who also worked during Pitch 43 with the Partch instruments, wrote the piece Murmurations for the current Linkage! phase. Peter, Melvyn and Axel are working right now once a week with the students of Katharina-Henoth-Gesamtschule in Köln to prepare for the first performance of that piece on June 17 in WDR Funkhaus am Wallrafplatz.
The composer himself answered some questions about his new composition:
You have been commissioned to write a piece for the new project Linkage!. What is the main difference of this commission compared to others?
The main difference is that it is more like a open framework to perform and create music, rather than exact instructions on instrumentation and how every note or sound should be performed. The fact that it should be possible for non-musicians to perform the piece is also very unusual.
The only requirement was, the composition has to be spielBar (playable), so it can be performed by pupils without prior instrumental knowledge. How is your piece „spielBar“?
The piece does not specify the type of instrument or sound source, duration or number of performers. It does however present an idea that opens up for a collective understanding of a possible way to create and perform music together. The performers are free do whatever they like within the framework of the idea presented.
Please tell us something about the creative process: How did you approach the piece? What was especially challenging?
It was especially challenging to create an open framework, which would be playable for pupils without prior instrumental knowledge, and at the same time present the idea in a way that would be clear, as well as exciting to explore. In a piece like this you can not hide behind your knowledge as a composer or musician, you have to present an idea at it´s very core level. It was also challenging to apply my own musical identity to such an open framework. In the process of making “Murmurations” I worked on an microtonal electronic piece, where I could improvise around sounds that to me was similar to swarms of birds or insects. This was the basis for how the idea for “Murmurations” came about. Some of the same type of musical interaction is also present in my piece for the Harry Partch instruments, especially in Part V (“Sow Your Gold In The White Foliated Earth”).
Murmurations is the title of that piece students of Katharina-Henoth-Gesamtschule will premiere on June 17 at our concert Musikfabrik im WDR 66. What does the title tell us about the composition?
The title is directly related to how the performers should explore and perform this piece. A murmuration is commonly know as the collective behaviour and movement of a flock of European starlings in the air. A starling will sense any change in speed or direction from a “neighbour” starling and follow these changes, as well as sense the fluid changes of the group as a whole. This is how the performers should approach the piece as well, utilizing an instrument, found device or voice, to explore changes in movement, size, speed and pitch in a collective fluid motion.