Ascent Into Air
for ensemble and electronicsclarinet, bass clarinet, trombone, bass trombone, 2 cellos, 3 percussion, electronics (1981)
|Commission||This work was commissioned by Madame Pierre Schlumberger for IRCAM, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.|
|Premiere||January 18, 1982; Georges Pompidou Center, Paris; Ensemble InterContemporain; Peter Eötvös, conductor|
|Technical requirements||Electronics are not included with purchase.|
Ascent Into Air for two clarinets, two trombones, three percussion, two pianos, two celli, and computer-generated sound, is the first part of a larger work called The Double Life of Amphibians. Each part is a complete work which can be performed independently. The Double Life of Amphibians is a metaphor which is used to provide a model for the structure of the work as well as suggesting the nature of the musical materials. The metaphor, briefly stated, deals with the idea that amphibians while providing the evolutionary link to all vertebrate land-air life were (and are still) dependent on a water environment. They correspond well to the saying "...neither fish nor fowl." This idea becomes a metaphor for all similar situations where a major evolutionary change is about to take place (whether cultural or structural) and where two simultaneous or alternating, and often contradictory, modes of behavior exist.
In many respects, working in an art with technology is a clear example of this metaphor. We are at an evolutionary point in the development of this extension (transformation?) of our ability to communicate, i.e. the transformation of the content as well as the mode of communication. This metaphor is expressed at many levels of the work. The following is an outline of some of these ways:
1) Each instrument has a double, placed on opposite sides of the stage.
2) The computer acts as a paralleled instrument responding to all gestures of the celli while existing in its separate place both timbrally and spatially.
3) The two pianos and percussion form one group together, while the celli and the computer form a second group... but,
4) These two together create a liquid-like environment for the work... an environment of a timbral and textural medium which is articulated by "waves" of amplitude and spatial changes.
5) The clarinets and trombones create a more 'normal' musical reality utilizing more recognizable musical materials that produce a counterpoint to the music of the celli, pianos, percussion, and computer.
6) In the fifth and final section, the elements finally converge to form a synthesis and transformation of all the preceding "doubleness" (ascent).