magnetic :: 2011
flute (doubling alto flute), clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), violin, cello, piano
Commissioned by Eesti Muusika Päevad 2011 (Estonian Music Days 2011) for Uusinta Chamber Ensemble (Finland).
Fp: Uusinta (Malla Vivolin, flute, Marko Portin, clarinet, Emil Holmström, piano, Teija Kivinen, violin, Jukka Kaukola, cello), Tallinn (Estonia), 24 March 2011
The composition process of magnetic (2011) started with a simple question: how could I "transpose" the _sound_ of, say, a very low minor third three octaves higher? Simply playing the same interval three octaves higher sounds so very different, yet I could somehow vaguely imagine the somewhat electronic-sounding result in my head. After spending quite a lot of time tinkering with noise, timbre, phonetics, extended techniques and all that, I felt it was high time to go similary more ear-specific with pitch. To quote one of my favourite mottos (Debussy, I'm told): in order to create something new, take what's the most obvious, and change that.
So I came up with a theory. Not surprisingly maintaining the interval character meant making the intervals smaller going up, and vice versa—just like in the acoustical overtone series. Also not so surprisingly I needed specific microintervals: for the first time in my music up to 1/8-tones.
Then the piece itself, right? As the material was much more fine-tuned to our senses than for example in pitch-class set theory (which I've never trusted enough to use in my music), I also tried to make the piece more akin to the sense of discovery I myself was making than a "novel about something else" in this new landscape. In other words, I wanted to leave enough time for the listener to grasp the new "transpositions", to pave his/her way though the material carefully. In this, the relatively short time available for composing the piece I believe to have actually been of advantage, keeping me closer to the freshness of a first listen.
The work magnetic (2011) for flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello was commissioned by Estonian Music Days 2011 for the Finnish Uusinta Chamber Ensemble, to be premiered March 24, 2011 in my shared portrait concert with Estonian composer Helena Tulve.
© 2011 Jarkko Hartikainen