Harmonies and forms
"Isorropía. In search of balance" is the work written for five amplified instruments and quadraphonic electroacoustic sound layer. The ensemble, consisting of violin, violin/viola, accordion, percussion, and piano/microtonal synthesizer, gave a huge sonoristic potential to explore combining with the electroacoustic layer. Wondering how I could achieve the homogeneity of the musical material in the composition, I decided to use the siren's recording and process its sound as the only acoustic content transformed in my electronic layer, a certain type of tie between the acoustic and electronic realms bound together. Isorropía, meaning "the balance" from Greek, was my personal search for getting back to the balance of things, a way to order, but connect the sound triggers into the one, well functioning, the transparent network of timbres, and finding the way back for myself, after being unable to compose and create. This composition's "timbral microperspective" was undoubtedly hidden in the siren sound and its microscopic analysis, exploration, and expansion through various sonic components. My goal was to carefully define the harmonic layers and arrange the sound's spatial dispositions, thanks to which I could balance with sound clusters and musical situations developing in the sonic space.
In the composition "Isorropía. In search of balance," I used a siren sound to create a complete harmonic landscape of the piece. The highest note of the instrument I worked on according to the spectral analysis was unstable A = ca 440 Hz, and set a primary fundamental note of the whole composition. I organized four groups of complementary harmonic spectra using both overtones and subtones. Each following center is the third component of the previous one, and the more the center moves up the scale, the richer the share of sub-harmonics in the tonal organization of the work. This, as well as E and B, function as the central references to materials constructed with strictly harmonic priorities in mind. Along with moving towards the imaginary, as inaudible or unrecognizable to the human ear, F sharp = ca 11 839.82 Hz, a radical deconstruction and saturation of the previously recorded siren sound take place, which appears in the next part of the work in the form of an echo of its surroundings, an invisible it does not resemble the harmonic glissandi characteristic of the original sound of the instrument anymore. This is an attitude towards catching the sound's inharmonicity, and the overall aura of the reminiscences of siren sound, the echo of its presence, developed through the noise.
Harmonic organization in "Isorropía. In search of balance" has the properties of fluid - it spills in between the fundamentals and balances between the amount of overtone or subtone in the overall shape of the sonic momentum. This transition is subtle, as many of the pitch components are common to each of the fundamentals; hence, in my opinion, the liquidity in sound morphing creates an exceptional harmonic arrangement.
The harmonic construction of the composition is dependent on its form. These elements become relevant to each other and responsible through the process of the composition's growth. Two main formal elements can be recognized in the piece through the harmonic and inharmonic treatment of the siren material with the chosen spectral arrangements.
The introductory phase, an overwhelming mass of bluntly screaming siren glissandos performed both by the percussion player and visible as well in the electroacoustic layer, is filled with the modulating components from fundamentals of spectra A, E, and B. This mass creates a wall of timbres, so often used by the composers like Tristan Murail or Gerard Grisey to create a certain exposition of harmonic material to the listener. However, I did not intend to sustain stability in the opening of "Isorropía [...]", but preferred to use this as a glittering canvas for quite abstract sonic modulations. The fast movement, rhythmical anxiety, preference in high pitch sonic blends between the instruments create a wonderful complement of the aggressive analog chord in the electronic layer and all-surrounding siren glissandi.
The second phase of the formal development focuses on the inharmonic elements of sound and, called by me, siren's aftersounds. Working on the recording of one full period of siren's glissando upwards and downwards, I have filtered out all clearly visible harmonic elements of the glissando movement and found out that the remaining "noise" becomes a high-pitched mumbling, a saturated, extracted from the siren's existence, plain of sonic shades. I matched this filtered recording with the F sharp spectrum world, dominated by the subharmonic components, which somehow slows down the narration in the composition and creates a very subtle, slowly developing process of moving towards the harmonicity again.
This constant metamorphosis, fluency of sound sequences, and rejection of contrast as a tool for formal development in composition become my obsession with creating one coherent train of thought. A smooth transformation towards the introductory phase's harmonic organization begins through the piano part, first in bar 151, mysteriously and shy, using the harmonies referring to the spectrum of F sharp. The piano part gradually expands and uses all harmonic elements of four fundamentals, enriched by the synthesizer's microtonal counterpoint simultaneously interlacing with the equally tempered primary material. This leads to a certain sound explosion in bar 181 and seals the primary harmonic dominance's full return. The section again derives strength from fast-moving passages, microtonal micro-glissandos in violins, blended with halftone continuous glissandos in the vibraphone, accordion, and piano. Finally, the section swiftly transforms back again into the realm of inharmonicity and noise manifested by the long, unstable drone structure. It maintains the block of sounds on a compelling loud level until the end of the composition. What I wanted to achieve was to choke on the sound - harmonic and inharmonic one, and regain the balance for both with the end of the music and remaining silence.