Horizon Plus for Japanese Shô and Live Electronics
VIDEO: NAOMI SATO, SHÔ; EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO DES SWR, ELECTRONICS.
Horizon Plus is inspired by solo Shô music from the Gagaku tradition from Japan.
The piece consists of series of long, sustained phrases of different lengths that are fed into live processes in the electronics. These processes act as a hologram around the Shô’s sound, sometimes enhancing its timbral characteristics, other times extending its pitch range, sometimes creating a distorted image by slightly affecting the instrument’s pitch, and other times creating fluttering pulses that enliven the musical texture.
Following the tradition of Gagaku notation, there are no indications of rhythm or dynamics in the score of Horizon Plus. The player is given the indication to play in long, periodic breaths, creating extended phrases out of each system.
Without rhythm or dynamics the piece is organized by the compartmentalization of musical material into a series of systems. Each system has a different number of measures. Systems with multiple measures follow a pattern of growth through which each subsequent measure has more events than the previous one, thus creating an exponentially asymmetrical set of phrase lengths. Systems with only one event are to be given special emphasis that the player can achieve through dynamics or length. This follows a common element in Gagaku music: the use of extremely long single tones that act as structural markers.
Another common structural element in Gagaku music is the appearance of new material towards the very end of the piece. In Horizon Plus this is emulated through the introduction of a straightforward melody (emphasized by the pitch shifting at octaves) in the very last system of the piece.
The piece was composed in collaboration with Naomi Sato who premiered it with the Experimentalstudio des SWR at the Atlas Festival in 2012.