Alila | for String Quartet (2018) 9’
Premiered by members of the Barenboim-Said Akademie and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra:
Michael Barenboim, violin I
Samir Obaido, violin II
Katrin Spiegel, viola
Astrig Siranossian, cello
At the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milano on April 11, 2018
The Hebrew word Alila (עלילה ) means plot, a story in its barest form. I've always been fascinated by the story-like, narrative aspect of music, and by how separate musical ideas can be joined together to form a unified meaning. The word Alila therefore represents for me a sort of aesthetic ideal, and in my latest works I've been exploring the question of how to create the feeling of direction and progression from one musical moment to another, in the same way a kind of common thread, Ürlinie if you will, connects discrete dramatic events into a narrative.
In this piece my means of achieving this goal is a harmonic progression inspired by a short prophetic passage from Schoenberg's Harmonielehre that I am particularly fond of:
"What today is remote can tomorrow be close at hand; it is all a matter of whether one can get closer. And the evolution of music has followed this course: it has drawn into the stock of artistic resources more and more of the harmonic possibilities inherent in the tone."
Derived from the natural overtone series, the harmonic progression gradually moves from lower to higher partials, thus, as in Schoenberg's quote, gradually drawing in more and more 'remote' sonorities which become increasingly chromatic and microtonal.
This progression however is merely the pieces skeleton, its 'plot'. The same way a storyteller may tell the same plot in many different ways by using rhetoric devises in an intuitive way, I also tried to keep a playful spontaneity to my storytelling and let the characters lead me in their own direction.