Composer: Trevor Bača.
Forces: piccolo/alto flute/contrabass flute, guitar, accordion, percussion.
Duration: 15 minutes.
Page 5 of L'archipel du corps (2011) for flute, guitar, accordion & percussion.
The following inscription, written by the composer, appears at the head of the score:
At the interface of the world and the tangled skein of light, color and heat in which it writes its name we find the body and the flickering collection of sensations that draws around it. Nerves mediate the world in their silent administration of the body’s signals and responses; but, myelinated and cold, the nerves’ channels’ coating now resists the touch of forefinger and thumb and resists, too, the thin translucence of the gloves that endure the hours of our investigation. Hands travel the body’s insides; hands trace the contours of the spine. The colored islands of our experience align to the body and the collection of its parts.
Flute. Three flutes are required. These are the piccolo, alto flute and contrabass flute. Notes marked as pizzicati in the flute may be performed as tongue pizzicati or as lip pizzicati or as a mixture of the two. Short angled lines drawn through note stems indicate flutter tongue. Square note heads on the usual five-line staff indicate notes that are to be played with the lips completely covering the mouth plate of the flute. When square note heads are accompanied by a wavy trill spanner headed with a capital R then an unvoiced trill of the tongue should be played into the body of the flute with the mouth plate covered by the lips.
Guitar. The pitches marked jeux des harmoniques indicate only where the lowest string on the guitar is to be fingered; these harmonics are to be played with the side of a hard pic and will sound a different partial of the stopped string at each attack. Square note heads written on the usual five-line staff and marked RH hiss glissandi are to be played with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand pinching one of smoother upper nylon strings of the guitar and then running quickly up or down the stopped string to produce a characteristic hissing sound. Scraped guitar cadenza. The notes written as crosses towards the end of the piece comprise a type of cadenza. These cross-shaped notes are marked with up-bow and down-bow indicators and are all to be played on the lowest string of the instrument in a special way. The left hand is to execute these cross-shaped notes by grasping the string firmly between the thumb and forefinger to lift the string up some distance away from the fingerboard and its frets and stop the string at the pitches indicated. The right hand is to execute these cross-shaped notes by drawing the serrated edge of a metal bolt or metal screw against the string at a distance of only one or two centimeters directly in front of the thumb and forefinger of the left hand; the bristles of a plastic comb or other serrated object may be used in place of the metal bolt or screw at the discretion of the performer; the up-bow and down-bow indications give the direction in which each stroke of the bolt is to be drawn against the string. The overall effect of the passage is to be the sinking sensation that accompanies the experience of something alien or unexpected.
Accordion. Cross-shaped note heads appearing on the one-line percussion staff and marked bellows pizz. indicate a type of pizzicato to executed by plucking the forefinger forcefully against the bellows of the instrument to cause as loud and well-articulated a plucking sound as possible; the technique may be executed with either hand and may optionally be done with the felt or rubber pic of a guitar instead of the fleshy part of the finger. Cross-shaped note heads appearing on the one-line percussion staff and accompanied by a wavy spanner headed with bg indicate a bellows guiro to be executed by drawing the backs of the fingers and the fingernails across the bellows. Square-shaped note heads appearing on the one-line percussion staff marked air tone indicate the sound of air forced through the bellows with the air button depressed.
Percussion. Four instruments are required. Marimba. The marimba must be a five-octave marimba extending down to C♮2. The choice of mallets is very largely left to the interpreter with two exceptions. The first of these are the cross-shaped note heads that first appear with an instruction to strike forcefully with a pair of paintbrushes that are held one per hand; the forceful dynamics that accompany the music at these locations are to be understood as effort dynamics that indicate the degree of force used to strike the keys of the instrument. The notes accompanied by a wavy spanner headed by either br or mbr are likewise to be played in a special way. Notes accompanied by a br spanner are a type of ‘bristle trill’ to be played by striking the indicated key with one of the same paintbrushes described above so as to encourage the production of some sense of pitch followed by the rapid rubbing or scrubbing of the bristles of the paintbrush on top of the surface of the wooden key; the intended effect is of a brief sense of resonant pitch followed by the type of white-noise sound of hair whisking rapidly back and forth over wood. Notes accompanied by an mbr spanner are a type of ‘mallet-initiated bristle trill’ to be played by striking the indicated key with a yarn, felt or other ‘usual’ mallet followed by the rapid rubbing or scrubbing of the bristles of the same paintbrush as described before on the surface of the wooden key. Note also that passages marked with angled tremolandi indicators are always accompanied by an indication to use bass drum beaters. These passages are to create a profoundly low and attackless sound; no other marimba tremolandi are used in the piece and all other struck pitches on the instrument are to be interpreted as tiny packets of invisible information flashing from moment to moment with different strengths, presence and hidden meaning. Bass drum, claves. Each occurs only once in the piece. The claves should be of a hard wood with a high sound. Glockenspiel. The instrument is used only at the end of the piece. The entrance of the instrument should be completely unexpected and should perhaps be placed towards the back of the set-up where the audience will be less likely to note the presence of the instrument until its entrance for that reason.
World premiere given by Carin Levine (flutes), Jürgen Ruck (guitar), Stefan Hussong (accordion) and Marta Klimasara (percussion) on 7 November 2011 at the Würzburg Musikhochschule in Würzburg, Germany.
Dutch premiere given by Ine Vanoeveren (flutes), Nico Couck (guitar), Brendan Nguyen (accordion) and Jonathan Hepfer (percussion) all under the direction of Alice Teyssier on 21 September 2014 as part of Musica Sacra in Maastricht, The Netherlands.