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Whispered by the perfumed breath of silence

for string ensemble

Year:  1999   ·  Duration:  9m
Instrumentation:  solo violin, eight violins, two violas, two cellos

Year:  1999
Duration:  9m
Instrumentation  solo violin, eight violins,...

Composer:   Neville Hall

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: Pages 19-27

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The mode of perception invoked during aesthetic experience seems to be quite different from that of quotidian experience. We perceive more intensely and in more detail. We are less concerned with the object as being representative of a class of objects and focus more on its specificity, becoming hypersensitive to its form. Certainly, we also look for “meaning”, but in a much more speculative, open fashion. Aesthetic objects often evoke meaning in an intransitive sense - the aesthetic object is allowed to “mean” without necessarily “meaning something”.

In response to these thoughts about the nature of the aesthetic experience I have tried to focus on the finest possible gradations of difference in the sounds I have employed in this work. In particular, the performers must articulate microscopic differences in timbre, dynamics, pitch and speed of repetition, bringing these distinctions to the foreground as the basic material of the composition.

The function of the solo violin, supported by a quartet of violins, is no more significant than that of the remaining ensemble. Together they articulate one unified structure; they simply take different paths through this structure, converging at a point near the end of the piece. When the two paths converge we finally hear the material from which the whole piece is derived. In retrospect, we may become aware of the development of this material, which has been rendered somewhat covert by its non-linear presentation.

A significant factor in the shaping of the whole piece is the title. A recording of the title was subjected to a spectral analysis and the resulting information was used to shape, in a selective and fragmented way, the behaviour of the instrumental parts over time. I avoided directly translating the harmonic makeup of the spectral analysis to the piece, focusing instead on transferring the small shifts and changes in individual partials into microscopic changes in pitch and timbre. The result is that the microrhythmic and macrorhythmic characteristics, as well as the overall compression and expansion of the spectral field are identical in both the finished piece and the spectral analysis of the title.

Dedication note

Dedicated to Gerard Grisey

Contents note

Single movement