Composer: Trevor Bača.
Forces: flute, violin & piano.
Duration: 15 minutes.
Page 25 of Lidércfény (2008) for flute, violin & piano.
The following inscription, written by the composer, appears at the head of the score:
Lidércfény is the Hungarian word for the glowing light that hovers at night above the waters and in the woods. A sometimes-blue, sometimes-pink, sometimes-yellow shining. Alternately brilliant and dim. Here we read the lidércfény as code — sometimes a special marker, sometimes merely an outline, sometimes an after-image. Or else a false beacon, an empty reference.
What of the fascination that attaches to even the most meager row of symbols when discovered scratched into stone, into bone, or onto the unlikely page? What of those few silent moments of before-language, before the passing-into of speech, moments when we realize that we can not read, we can not decode? It is, it seems to me, in just those moments when we think, or believe, that we can not read, that the indecipherable — Arabic prose or Persian verse, dancing with dots above and below, passing uninterruptedly from word to word — furrows some unknown territory of the mind, if only for the briefest of moments. A retreating trace, and the onset of the closing eye.
The piece requires that the flutist play both the flute in C and the alto flute in G. The flute notates against two staves. Fingered pitches, trills, ornaments and all other actions of the hands on the keys of the instrument notate in the staff at top; the breath notates on a special two-line staff below. The piece specifies several special types of breath. All sounds — t, p, s, š, etc. — are unvoiced. The corresponding voiced sounds — d, b, z, ž, etc. — do not appear, and it is important that no voicing creep into the breath accidentally. Special conventions capture the beginning, middle and end of each breath.
The violin likewise notates against two staves. Pitches, harmonics, trills and all other actions of the left hand appear at top; bow position, bow changes, different types of bowing, dynamics and all other actions of the right hand appear at bottom. Artificial harmonics appear at the fourth, fifth and octave; natural harmonics do not appear. The bow notates on a special three-line staff which defines five different positions of the bow which are, from the bottom of the staff to the top, tasto, ordinario, mezzo ponticello, ponticello, ponticello estremo. Complex motions of the bow appear as thick lines drawn in multiple stages. Black diamond noteheads indicate an audible retake of the bow; headless notes server a metrical purpose only and never indicate an audible retake of the bow. Bow black diamond noteheads followed by no thick extender line détaché.
The rhythms came first in the form of two different skeletal assemblages of seventeen staves each.
The second of these structures acts as a type of foreign agent cutting out, overwriting and inserting into the first, which runs the full 230 measures of the piece.
The material development of these rhythms outlines a coppice in the constant development, cutting back and redevelopment of new material.
Pitches are a different story.
Seed chords recombine in different ways to generate a series of several hundred pitches. This series of pitches repeats for the duration of the piece. Later processes work out the deployment and configuration of instrumental timbre and change the registration and contour of these pitches significantly. Absent these later timbre transforms, the pitches of this core series would probably constitute a color in the sense of the isorhythmic motet of the 14th century.
World premiere by Alice Teyssier (flutes), Chris Otto (violin) and Katalin Lukács (piano) all under the direction of Jonathan Hepfer on 11 July 2009 in the Black Box Theater on the campus of the University of California, San Diego.