Willem Boogman




ca 18 minutes

commissioned by

Output Festival 2007

dedicated to

Wiek Hijmans, Alan Thomas and Olaf Tarenskeen


October 30, 2007
Output Festival
Amsterdam, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ

Alan Thomas - electric guitar

Genieting - the cycle

›Genieting IV‹ is the fourth work in a series of solo compositions entitled ›Genieting‹ (›pleasure‹, ›enjoyment‹), the translation of the French ›jouissance‹ used by the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. I interpreted this term not only in the sense of what it means to be a soloist but also as the kind of music the soloist plays. In ›Genieting‹ the music is brought back to its constituent elements, whence it is built up once again.

»La jouissance est un retrait en soi, une involution.
... une exaltation vibrante où le soi se lève.«

Emmanuel Levinas

buy the score


Genieting IV

for electric guitar (2007)

Score-sample of Genieting IV score sample


performed and recorded as Part I of Sternenrest, without the electronic music. mp3

program notes | toelichting (NL)

Solo works, by and large, emphasize the player’s technical mastery of the instrument and challenge the limits of the achievable. In the series of solo works under the title Genieting this aspect is characterized by the duality of the performer who takes control of the physical characteristics of his instrument but at the same time is submerged in them: an elementary world that also remains strange and ›foreign‹ for the player as well as the listener.
Genieting IV for electric guitar consists for a large part of tapping on the strings with a small stone, producing tones that always resonate but that are usually not audible. They are well above the normal range of the guitar, in a small area in which the string becomes progressively ›shorter‹ and the tones lie ever closer to one another. So close, in fact, that intermediate tones (microtones) are easily produced. The composer gladly makes use of this phenomenon. The left hand is free either to play in the ›normal range‹ or to allow the string to resonate: tapping the appropriate string with the stone resonates the tone fingered by the left hand. This enables one to play two voices at once on a single string.

Genieting IV can be regarded as a musical reverie at twilight, as the stars begin to appear in the night sky. But the surface of this piece also reflects the formation of the universe and the birth of a star, in which sound plays an important role, as recent discoveries and hypotheses in cosmology and astronomy have shown.

Thus the work begins with a Big Bang [Twilight/Big Bang]: an uncontrollable ›explosion‹ in which ›everything‹ is already present and that later, stretched out in time and space, will take on a variety of guises. In particular the notes D# and E are already present: at the end these are revealed as the tones produced by the newborn star.

In measures 35-121 the piece has the character of an impromptu, cantabile [Starry Sky/Imprints]. The guitar is played normally, as a melodic instrument. The surface, however, takes its structure from graphics made by asteroseismologists, where variations in light emitted by a star, measured over a long period of time, are notated in dots. Joined together, these dots form a curve indicating that the star emits periodic sound waves: some stars thus in fact produce sound!
In the music the ›dots‹ (notes) are the result of rotational shifting of the finger positions on the fingerboard of the guitar. The basic pattern was one of a pair of ascending notes followed by a pair of descending notes. The resulting elongated curve forms the grid on which the rest of Genieting IV is built.

This too is the consequence of a cosmological hypothesis with far-reaching significance for a musician. The division of matter in the universe is in fact not random. Stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies emerge in an essentially empty universe on the edges of vastly inflated and frozen sound waves that were already present in the primeval soup. These sound waves were discovered as minuscule ripples in the otherwise smooth cosmic microwave background. They act as the seeds of large-scale structures in the universe.

In measures 121-240 [Seeds of Structure/Cosmic Microwave Background], events – small as well as large-scale – coalesce. On the one hand, the tapping of the stone on the guitar strings produces audible infinitesimal fluctuations between (micro)tones. On the other hand, these subtle variations in tone and rhythm are grafted onto underlying patterns on a much larger scale, which are based on the above-mentioned tone curve. The pitch order remains constant.

These structures give rise to a star [Birth of a Star] from measure 240 to the end. The star is generated via a mechanical process of the repetition of tone clouds gradually becoming more and more dense.

The star’s forthcoming vicissitudes can be heard in Sternenrest, a large work for electronics, instrumentalists, 192 loudspeakers and video, of which Genieting IV is the first section. But then electronic music is added to these same notes.

Willem Boogman, January 2008
(Translation: Jonathan Reeder)

I am indebted to the guitar players Wiek Hijmans who introduced me to the electric guitar and with whom I tried out the effects, to Alan Thomas who did the first performance of the first version at the Output Festival, 2007 in Amsterdam, and to Olaf Tarenskeen who helped me shaping the final score in 2008. He also premiered the second version in November 2008 during the November Music Festival, as part I of the cycle Sternenrest.


(for an elaborate explanation see the preface to the score)
Genieting IV was written for a solid body guitar or a semi-hollow body electric guitar, type Gretsch. Olaf Tarenskeen played the music very successfully on a Fender Stratocaster, the bridge pickup being selected during the tapping of the small stone (see: Effects), and the neck pickup during the ›cantabile‹ part for a full, warm tone. The emg single coil pickup here involved, was made active in order to boost high frequencies and to produce clear tones over a silent background.
The third string should be wound.
Amplifier: the Fender Stratocaster was used in combination with a clean sounding Fender Deluxe Reverb. The sound of this amp can be considered as a reference sound: the composer prefers the warm sound of a tube amp. The music needs to be projected softly but with a ›wide‹ (stereo-) sound that reveals a lot of subtle details. Use an amp with large power (watts) to give the delays a clean sound.

Input chain: guitar input – – DD-6 – – CE-5 – – ME-50 – – output
(Olaf Tarenskeen)

Except for the small stone, effects do not appear until the last two pages of the score.
No distortion of any kind should be used during this piece.

Chorus should always be very slow; the same settings are used for each effect group. It creates ›waves‹ on tones that are dubbed into a delay. These wave motions should be allowed to run their full course, not being cut off by the delay.

Delay should be able to repeat the sound endlessly. It operates with a maximum of feedback: the sound should maintain its intensity, not getting softer!

Pitch Shifter should be able to add two pitches to each source tone. However, see the preface to the score for alternatives.

Small Stone
For most of the time the electric guitar is played with a small stone held in the right hand. Strings are scraped or tapped by this stone, or it executes glissandi.

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