Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Vows

My latest piece was destined to be played in a concert in a church. When you think of churches you think about the big moments in life: birth, marriage, death. In "The Vows" I committed myself to the theme of marriage.

The idea of "marriage" was used throughout the construction of the piece. In the background e.g. we hear a sound "carpet" made by a mathematical combination of J. S. Bach's orchestral suite in B minor piece (aka "Badinerie", sometimes used in marriage ceremonies) and Stravinsky's firebird (a story that ends in marriage of a prince and a princess set to music). The mathematical technique deconstructs both pieces into information bins and then mixes those bins together so as to weave them back together into a sound carpet.

King Eduard VIII was a king who had was forced to abdicate because of his desire to marry the American girl Wallis Simpson. The speech he held for the abdication survived history thanks to an audio recording. It is this audio recording that was cut into pieces, and then rewoven into the king expressing his wedding vows. Where the original speech sounded very self-assured, the new version sounds rather uncertain - a feeling that some people feel when they are about to get married.

By using this speech we get a marriage between spoken word and instrumental sounds. This is emphasized in the last part of the music where the spoken word is lifted to a choir piece by supporting it with tonal chords. The scale in which the chord are written was adapted to match the underlying sound carpet as good as possible, resulting in a harmonious marriage between the tonal chords and the atonal sound carpet. 

Just like in a wedding service, the ceremony sometimes is interrupted for some music (!). This is accomplished by using an experimental Waltz between the different parts. 

The piece is supported by images. There's a marriage between image and sound, between animations and film fragments, between authentic archive material from King Eduard's marriage and fake romance from an old movie.

To generate the animations in the video, I developed a new python library, the code of which is freely available via my other blog:

Finally the music video can be found on youtube:

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