String Trio and Harpsichord
Dark Music Days Reykjavik
Index for string trio and harpsichord is part of a body of compositions based on scripts of films that have not (or not yet) been made. Commissioned by Transit festival.
The starting point for this piece was Signe particulier: néant by Georges Perec, the synopsis of a film that was never made. A singular characteristic of Perec’s work is that he chose a limitation or constraint as a defining concept for the form. He became infamous for writing a 300-page novel without using the letter E (La Disparition, 1969). Signe particulier: Néant is an equivalent of the same idea for film. Its limitation is that no faces are shown – a rejection of an essential element in film. A list of possible scenes that satisfy this constraint shows the ideas that Perec was collecting of ways to not reveal faces on screen: a scene shot from a long distance, by night, in a sauna, beekeepers, characters caught in a sandstorm, as shadows, out-of-focus images, a commando unit by night with camouflaged faces, etc. For Perec, drawing up a list, summary, or Index was often the foundation of his writing.
In writing this composition, the most important question was what constraint would be strong enough to determine its form and material. Not allowing intervals greater than a whole tone turned out to entail a convincing formal limitation that results in particular material*. What kind of music is possible if such an essential element is denied?
translation: Anne Hodgkinson
* Exceptions allowed on peculiar moments
List of Perec Translated by Rokus Hofstede