The following inscription, written by the composer, appears at the head of the score:
Poème récursif (1993/2003/2005) models a massive network of timepoints in constant transformation, definition and reformation. The many thousands of diﬀerent attacks in the piece group into hundreds of rhythmic cells which, in turn, build up overlapping series of rhythmic construction. The horizontal density of the score — 64 parts — supplies an important part of the piece’s character in the form of overt, constant concord together with overt, constant dissolution in both the horizontal and vertical directions.
Page 7 of Poème récursif (2005) for 64 pieces of percussion.
Instrumentation as a heuristic. The pieces specifies instrumentation only approximately. You need 64 percussionists and 64 pieces of percussion. And that's all. Why? Because massiveness of texture here matters so much. So whether wood or metal or bones or skin attack these notes matters much less than the number of attacks that happen at once or than the number of attacks that happen soon after one another. These requirements help guide selection of instruments from one performance to the next. But nothing more.
Attack points matter most. Sustained parts of the durations here are meaningless — notes are just attack points and none of the notes should sustain past initial attack; there is no difference between a quarter note, on the one hand, and a sixteenth note followed by three sixteenth rests, on the other. Sustaining instruments are to be avoided.
Dynamics as a by-product. The piece marks no dynamics at all. So all notes are forte. Or all notes are piano. Either way. What matters is that notes all carry the same dynamic in a given performance. But note that the dynamic effect of different moments in time vary tremendously. All 64 parts frequently — but not always — mark the beginning of the measure in unison. But what happens between the start of one measure and the start of the next varies considerably. The number of attacks that happen at once or soon after one another govern everything in the piece and successively build up and tear down moments of loudness and quiet. Dynamics contribute crucially to the piece. But these are dynamics as a by-product. These are dynamics put out as the action of the much larger and more central process of the massing of attacks.
Divisions as color. Poème récursif marks the half note equal to 38 - 42 per minute. This is so because, it seems to me, textures at the scale of the piece need incredible amounts of space to breathe. Verse I (2003) makes use of eight — and only eight — divisions of the half note. Dividing the half note into eight equal parts gives us a measure of sixteenth notes. Dividing the half note into seven and six equal parts gives us septuplets and sextuplets. And measure-length half notes represent no division at all. Verse II (2005) ups the ante. One or two half notes — or more — first group together and then divide. And so the second verse grows the palette of the first. These are divisions as color. Eight types of division — or more — arrayed in a palette. A bit from here, a bit from there. And what winds up mattering are the ways in which bits of color interact with each other at an instant and over the course of a measure. Simultaneous divisions into three and thirteen grit and rub against each other. Simultaneous divisions into two, four and eighth mutually reinforce. In the notation of the score, what's dividing here are half notes. But note that these are only notational tokens standing in for more perfect and imagined blocks of rhythmic time.
Live performance of Poème récursif has yet to happen. Contact the composer for score and parts.