This is the only time this tearing material appears, and it has been given a very prominent placement in the phrase. Again, this choice was made for purely sonic reasons: the phrase required a certain quality of material at that point, and the tearing sound used offered the necessary morphology and trajectory. However, it was perhaps slightly odd, and not entirely satisfactory, that an entirely new category of material suddenly appears in the last phrase of the piece in this manner.
Searching for a name for the completed work, I eventually settled on Déchirure – French for “tearing”, or perhaps with more emphasis, such as the English term “tearing asunder” – for a number of reasons. This choice had the immediate effect of completely reinterpreting and redefining the tearing material of the work's final phrase: originally, the sound had seemed a sudden and slightly unwarranted appearance of new material, coming as it does unannounced and unanticipated in the work's final moments; now that the work is titled Déchirure, on the contrary, it functions as a kind of narrative resolution, finally providing a material that has been anticipated by the listener from the very beginning of their listening of the piece. Thus, this entirely extra-musical choice, made after the composition of the work was complete, serves to completely redefine the musical role of the work's final phrase, and thereby the form of the entire work.
Consider once again Francis Dhomont's work Points de fuite, or his closely related work Espace/Escape. As already discussed, these contain a great deal of material that narratively supports his theme. But, is this a consequence of the essential symbolic nature of the materials used? Or, are these symbols instead conjured up by the titles of the works, which imply a very particular narrative direction? I would propose that, if Points de fuite were given a different title, with a similar strength of narrative impetus, the symbolic identities of these same sound materials would shift dramatically, to support this other narrative thematic.
As a composer, I am often in the position of having to choose between several alternative titles for a work; this choice will have an enormous impact on the interpretation of the piece – not just for third party listeners, but for me myself. Each title results in a complete transformation of the work; and so, in choosing a title, I am not only choosing a handful of words that will go at the top of the page – I am choosing between a number of unique and independent identities for the work, each of which may share the same sonic shape, but present widely different narratives.
Then we come to the writing of the programme notes: again, a verbal and entirely extra-musical act and, again, one which will significantly impact the listener's interpretation of the work. From a multitude of possible approaches to the work, the composer must now choose and recommend one, singling this approach out as somehow more authoritative than others. Some aspects of the works are emphasized, while some are not mentioned; perhaps some of the strengths of the work are underlined, while perhaps some weaknesses are buttressed, by supporting them with a formal or thematic explanation. What's more, any such text from the composer will be assumed to represent the composer's compositional intentions, whereas, on the contrary, these are generally written after the fact, and therefore more commonly represent the composer's own interpretation of the piece as post facto listener.
Again taking Déchirure as an example, the programme notes must necessarily address the thematic of the piece, despite the fact that this thematic only revealed itself as the composition neared completion. This thematic draws the title of the piece together with the more narratively-charged symbols to draft a coherent theme, for example pointing to the train sounds that appear regularly as a symbol of departure and personal separation that might be in keeping with the title. This interpretation of the symbol, however, arose after the fact through a purely interpretative act, and not as a formative compositional intention; yet this is not how a programme text is likely to be understood.
These extra-musical acts of title and programme notes are, in this sense, largely a fiction; or, perhaps more accurately, they are as important a part of the compositional process as any other (Derrida 1987: 9) – possibly more important, as they will guide and restrict interpretation more than possibly any other compositional decision. What strikes us as strange about this stems from the fact that these are assumed to be neutral elements, simply reflecting an objective truth about compositional intentions, rather than as compositional elements in themselves.