aegjlns: concert (2002-2003)
for solo guitar and 8 instruments:
oboe, clarinet (+bass clarinet), horn, trombone, percussion, harp, violin, cello
Premiere: Ensemble 20+ (cond., Michael Lewanski), Chicago, June 2011
aegjlns existed first as a piece for guitar written in 2002 and dedicated to Jesse Langen. In it, the guitar was “split” in two: the lower half in equal temperament, the upper, one-quarter tone lower. Specific harmonic and timbral events were sculpted into the form of discrete gestures for the guitar in order to define each musical idea (symbolized by 7 the letters in the title). Its music is a kind of chaconne-mobile, gradually cycling through different combinations (mobile) of the seven basic elements (chaconne). In the solo work, the two “component guitars” enter into a dialogue as they are forced to adapt the chaconne harmonies to the their own realities.
It seemed to me that, because of the implicit polyphony and recourse to a highly varied timbral surface in the solo piece, this material could be reworked to create a special type of “ensemble” music - one that would never have occurred to me had the solo work not existed.
Two kinds of music are sounded together throughout the first part of aegjlns: concert: First, the original material is dilated in register and time (i.e. transformed in musical space and temporally expanded in strict canonic relations to the original) and scored for combinations from the added instrumental groups – here, duos of woodwind, brass, string and percussion/harp complements – to form the overall continuity of the concerto. Second, the guitar solo is given timbral support - members of the ensemble “accompany” with solos of their own - as it plays segments of its original material. These passages might now seem more like episodes or interpolations within the new continuity of the ensemble music.
Once all the material directly related to the guitar solo has been sounded (after about 7 minutes), the concert begins to create new material derived from the solo, but of an explicitly ensemble nature, even to the point of absorbing the soloist back into the fold. The work ends just as it seems to be opening a new pathway to a shimmering place, bustling with activity, one quite different from the deliberate and strangely sparse sound world of the opening.