Willem Boogman

composer





duration

30 minutes

scoring

see ›instruments‹

commissioned by

Slagwerk Den Haag

dedicated to

Inez Uerz

premiere

October 7, 1995
Proms-serie
Groningen, Oosterpoort

Slagwerkgroep Den Haag:
Emiel Matthijsse (I), Tom van der Loo (II), Steef Gerritse (III), Murk Jiskoot (IV), Arnold Marinissen (V) and Ron Colbers (VI).

buy the score

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Elementale

for six spatially-positioned percussionists, coordinated by a computer
(1991-1995)

»… Hinterdrein schlief ich, zum ersten Male gut und tief; und heute morgen sehe ich alle meine geliebten Berge vor mir, lauter Berge der Erinnerung«.
[Friedrich Nietzsche, an Malwida von Meysenbug, Lugano, Sonntag morgen, 13. Mai 1877]

audio

00:00
/
00:00
Elementale - premiere by the Slagwerk Den Haag;
Nijmegen (De Vereeniging), October 11, 1995. Live recorded by KRO-radio, mp3
The first half minute is scored for two snare drums and the lighting!
Duration: 29’17 (from the original score, first edition)

contents

Elementale consists of a motto, ten episodes and an epilogue which follow upon each other without a break.

1. Motto
2. Prelude
3. Tamtam episode
4. Gong episode
5. Cymbal episode
6. Almglocken episode
7. Membrane episode
8. D-line episode
9. Wood episode
10. Episode & Bassdrum episode
11. Epilogue

revision history

The published score is the revised edition, which appeared after the first performances in 1995.

program notes

Elementale has been written for six spatially-positioned percussionists, coordinated by a computer. The computer signals the tempo by means of a light metronome to the players. This way it is possible to execute the slowing down or speeding up of the tempo (ritardandi and accelerandi) very precisely, as well as different simultaneous tempi.

The motto of Elementale is a loud bang on a drum that resonates in the acoustic space until it expires. Thus one becomes aware of space. The sound leaves its source and dies out either aimlessly but beautifully, or is being answered by another sound struck into space from a different spot. Sounds with the same pitch prolong the tone and prevent it from dying out. Continuously replenished by the spatially positioned players a tone circles pulsating and at a certain pace through the empty space, creating a small ›rim‹ of sound. To realize this the players mainly dispose of instruments chosen for their pitch. Excluded however are tuned instruments like the vibraphone, marimba, timpani, etc. because they have a more ›harmonic‹ spectrum of overtones. For this piece instruments with a more complex (noise-like) spectrum are called for, in which yet a perceivable tone dominates.
This way I hope to deepen the relation between tone - sound color.

Maybe it is somewhat unusual for a percussion piece, but dance rhythms with a beat do not really occur in this composition. It is all about duration, color, speed and the way sound moves through space. Once again I have ventured into the world of musical elements from which this piece derives its (Italian) title: Elementale.

Rhythm too easily becomes ›style‹. It is as if dealing with the more elementary is a precondition for access to what rightfully can be called music, or what we remember music to be.

In Elementale music seems to give itself from an empty space, not from silence; an empty space which, according to the myth of Linos and also according to physical laws, is filled with vibration, if only for sadness over the Absent One.

(October 1995)

translation: Sandra Macrander

toelichting

Elementale is geschreven voor zes ruimtelijk opgestelde slagwerkers die gecoördineerd worden door een computer. De computer stuurt via een lichtmetronoom het tempo naar de spelers. Daarmee is het mogelijk om vertragingen en versnellingen van het tempo (ritardandi en accelerandi), en verschillende simultane tempi heel precies uit te voeren.

Het motto van Elementale is een harde slag op een trommel die uitklinkt in de akoestische ruimte. Zo wordt men ruimte gewaar. De klank verwijdert zich van de klankbron en sterft óf doelloos maar fraai uit, óf wordt beantwoord door een andere klank die elders de ruimte in wordt geslagen. Klanken op dezelfde toon verlengen de toon en behoeden het voor uitsterven. Steeds aangevuld door de ruimtelijk opgestelde spelers cirkelt een toon pulserend en met een bepaalde snelheid rond in de lege ruimte waardoor een smalle ›rand‹ van geluid wordt gevormd. Om dit te realiseren zijn de spelers uitgerust met een instrumentarium dat grotendeels bestaat uit instrumenten die uitgezocht zijn op hun toonhoogte. Uitgesloten werden echter gestemde instrumenten, zoals vibrafoon, marimba, pauken, enz., omdat zij een meer ›harmonisch‹ boventoonspectrum hebben. Mijn voorkeur ging uit naar instrumenten met een complexer (ruis-achtig) spectrum, waarin toch een waarneembare toonhoogte overheerst. Ik hoop hiermee de relatie toon – klankkleur uit te diepen.

Misschien is het wat ongebruikelijk voor een slagwerkstuk, maar dans-ritmen met een beat komen in dit stuk eigenlijk niet voor. Alles is duur, kleur, snelheid en de manier waarop klank beweegt door de ruimte. Opnieuw heb ik namelijk de wereld van de muzikale elementen opgezocht waaraan dit stuk haar (Italiaanse) titel ontleent: Elementale.

Ritme is ál te snel ›stijl‹. Het is alsof de omgang met het meer elementaire pas toegang geeft tot wat met recht de naam muziek draagt of wat wij ons daarvan herinneren.

In Elementale lijkt de muziek zich te geven vanuit een lege ruimte, niet vanuit de stilte; een lege ruimte die, volgens de mythe van Linos en ook volgens fysische wetten, gevuld wordt met trillingen, al was het maar uit verdriet over de Afwezige.

(oktober 1995)

instruments

Most of the instruments must be selected with a view to their pitch as indicated in the score. All instruments must produce an optimal sound. That is to say that they possess a full, characteristic resonance, the right pitch (small micro-tonal deviations are allowed) and a long decay time.
The instruments indicated in the score are in the possession of the Slagwerk Den Haag. (Information about the instruments can be obtained from this ensemble.) The instruments marked with an asterisk can be replaced by others with the same pitch. But do not use keyboard percussion, suspended tubular bells, steel drums, lujon, cowbells or cencerros. Do not use membraphones as timpani, tablas, boo-bams or roto-toms. Temple blocks and wood blocks can be replaced by mokubios.
The instruments must be set up in such a way that it allows them to produce their optimal sound. That is to say that most of the metal instruments must be suspended. The crotales, however, should not be suspended. Partly due to the last pages of the score which show rapid passage-work over a variety of instruments, it is necessary to situate the striking points of the instruments at the same level, except for the low metal and skin instruments, and the dobaci. It may be even necessary to double some instruments for these passages. In that case put down the extra instruments with the same pitch and play the suspended ones in the quiet passages. This solution is not indicated in the score.

placement

The 6 percussionists stand on 6 platforms (height ca 80cm -120cm) around the audience.

computer

A computer coordinates the players by passing the tempi to each of them separately. Six independent tempi simultaneously occur in this score. The tempo pulses can be made visible by lightmetronomes or audible by a clicktrack for each player. The public must not be aware of either lightflashes or clicks.
Preparing the first performance the computer appears to spontaneously send asynchronous signals to the players after some time. In the music fermatas were inserted to start up the program again, as a result of which the problem occured less soon. These fermatas are notated in the score. If the program works as it should do, the fermatas must be neglected.

lighting

For the lighting is required:
1. 6 small spotlights attached at the top of the instrument’s rack illuminating (part of) the instruments at each platform, and operated by the players. Each player has a dimmer in order to fade the spotlight in or out. If this light is not enough, auxiliary spots from the hall must directed at the players. These spots must be operated from the hall simultaneously with the personal spots of the players as indicated in the score.
2. A normal spotlight on player I, operated from the hall;
3. A very strong spotlight player I, operated from the hall;
4. A strong spotlight from the middle of the hall projecting a circle right above this place on the ceiling, operated from the hall, or a soft red colour on the (empty) stage in front of the audience.

The hall remains (almost) dark during the performance. This might call for music stand lighting (optional).