Double Jeopardy (2013) for octet, commissioned by Ensemble Proton Bern
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DOUBLE JEOPARDY (2013) for 8 instruments by Mu-Xuan Lin
“… Double Jeopardy, eine klangsinnliche Musik die sich wie ein elastisches Gummiband dehnt und spannt in alle Richtungen. …”
( “… Double Jeopardy, a sonically sensuous music that expands and stretches in all directions like an elastic rubber band. …” )
~ Cécile Olshausen, SRF kultur 2 host
Certain deed, once done can never be done, at least not in the same way. That is the law of music. Walking the way of music one is both at the moment and through time; objects present themselves blunt and front, shaking off droplets when one is just making out the shape of them, and flee away with too much said and unsaid, leaving one at the mercy of recognition and recollection. Each object once appeared can never appear, and each presence is the compromise of its own possible double. Even déjà-vu entails the existence of a set of Anothers – another time, another presence, another experience. Therefore it is allowed for every musical gesture to exert its transgression over and over in repetition, in disguise, in reverse, in distortion, in magnitude; and it is therefore just for every counter-gesture to respond over and over in subversion, in annihilation, in coercion, in assimilation, in mergence. Hence the double jeopardy in multitude.
~ Mu-Xuan Lin, 2014
Credit : vedio / Ensemble Proton Bern
Recording from the February premiere mastered and released!
The recording of Double Jeopardy (2013) for octet from the February premiere by the Ensemble Proton Bern is mastered and released! To listen, please go to Mu-Xuan’s website or Soundcloud :
Stay tuned for the video recording (coming out in November) of the performance of the piece and of the entire Protonwerk N.3 concert in Bern! It will be released on Youtube and on Ensemble Proton’s website.
Double Jeopardy (2013), part of Protonwerk No.3 Concert broadcast by SRF 2 kultur, July 9th 2014
FINALLY!!! Double Jeopardy (2013) for flute, clarinet, lupophon, kontraforte, violin, violoncello, harp, and piano, performed by the Ensemble Proton Bern, is to be broadcast alongside works by other Protonwerk No.3 composers on SRF 2 kultur next Wednesday.
Please visit SRF website for the stream :
Wednesday July 9th, 2014
CEST (Central European Summer Time) – 22H35
EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) – 4:35 PM (New York, Boston)
PDT (Pacific Daylight Time) – 1:35 PM (Los Angeles, San Francisco)
CST (China Standard Time) – 4:35 AM (Taipei)
Neue Musik im Konzert – Protonwerk No.3
Nicolas von Ritter
Ensemble Proton Bern –
Bettina Berger (flute), Martin Bliggenstorfer (lupophon), Richard Haynes (clarinet), Lucas A. Rössner (kontraforte), Maximilian Haft (violin), Jan-Filip Tupa (violoncello), Samuel Fried (piano), Vera Schnider (harp), Matthias Kuhn (conductor)
REFLECTION (written on April 13) : Listening to the Unheard / Writing Double Jeopardy, and the Premiere by Ensemble Proton Bern
(A journalistic reflection written in April, after my collaboration with the Ensemble Proton and the Protonwerk 3 concert in February. Original post on my website HERE.)
I flipped from side to side on the single bed dressed in cold bed linens stiff from laundering. Coated in the Alpine mists, Bern felt chillier than Paris. Where I stayed was up high in the mountain area, a place called Bremgarten. The kind gentleman of this house lived a tranquil life with very limited technology, so I let my angst twirl around me after I got back, unable to reach my distant friends on Skype or the like for relief therapy. I was on my own, yes, with my angst.
Always, I relived my existential crisis as a composer at and after the First Rehearsals, my Achilles’ heel. This day was one of those days. I took a train from Paris to Bern the day before, and on this day I attended my first rehearsal with Ensemble Proton Bern for the piece they commissioned from me, Double Jeopardy (2013) for eight instruments. And my existential angst surfaced and – Au bon Dieu! – everyone could see it and was suffering from it! What could I do? I wanted to hide myself under the bed linens and never come out again, never attend the second rehearsal, the dress, the performance….
By training of a composer, before bed I had studied my own score, and from my memory of the rehearsal marked the spots in the music that required special attentions. I made a long list of things for which I would need to communicate with Matthias, the conductor, the next day. However, I flipped from side to side in the bed, unable to sleep. Why were these bed linens so dry and coarse? Why did I put so many god damn details in my score? Why did I talk so much in the rehearsal? God this bed is hard! Would this piece be a failure? …um, cold… I wish there is internet so I can talk with someone. What would happen if they still are not ready tomorrow? I must be the most hated composer in the world. Ah, I really need to sleep NOW – there’s a long day to come tomorrow! Oh god, it’s three already…
I survived, more than survived. The bright spring sunshine quivered with morning dew; the descend from the picturesque uptown to the old town down by the river was rejuvenating. The Dampfzentrale, a performance space converted from a former factory, was quaint. I showed up to the remaining rehearsals more or less calm and collected, and things progressed. The talent and energy of the Proton musicians were beyond admirable. Each one of us Protonwerk N.3 commission award winners received about five hours for one’s piece within a week’s frame. We became friends as well. Not once before in my life had I experienced such amicability and support within a group of young composers who arrived together through way of competition. We had coffee together next to Aare River, chatted, and ate very little – the food there is very expensive. We appreciated each others’ music very much; we cultivated this sincere respect for each others rare in the field of contemporary music. We listened, and we communicated.
To listen and to communicate, these are simple human things yet are so difficult to do, at least for us contemporary Homo sapiens.
Monday, 24th of February, dress rehearsal. I left the score at Bremgarten. Sky was clear except for few silky strips of cloud, and the air was high with cold warmth. I bought a little cup of Bunder Gerstensuppe (Swiss barley soup) on the street with a heel of baguette, and lunched sitting on the stone balustrades of the Bundesterrasse, overlooking the distant Alpes topped and veined with chalk-white snow. They looked gigantic and formidable. Day was bright, and I had to wear sunglasses. After lunch I descended and went inside the dark hall of Dampfzentrale with its black window sills, black structural beams, black floors, black decks of chairs, black curtains, black space ready for spectacles. Dress rehearsal of Double Jeopardy, me without my score. Religiously I closed my eyes. Now I wanted to listen – to what was conceived, to what was being realized, to what was eventually performed. This would be the first time for me to listen to Double Jeopardy, not only as a piece being performed, but also as a Being as I first searched for, discovered, and moment-by-moment revealed and confirmed which’s existence.
I was listening to a Quest. The Quest of Searching. A search for how to listen.
* * * * * *
[To listen, I am]
In search of the hidden, the concealed, the obscured.
In search of a woman.
A woman can be an open book, yet the mystery and secrecy lay unseen in plain sight, throbbing and baffled. Red would not be intense enough without the right mixture of yellow and blue. If one looks close enough, one can see that yellow and blue without actually seeing them.
The desire to activate your phantom limb is stronger than that of moving an arm. (We call that an “itch”, don’t we?) Real silence is not a rest, a pause, a relief from the action of sound. It is an absolute abstraction charged with various forms and possibilities of energy. Silence — it moves.
Treating sounds as objects, as some platonic utterances of the universal truth has recently disinterested me. The projection of sounds that takes less effort than farting has bored me to death. In a world where the production of sounds has become unnaturally easy, we have long forgotten that the sounds embrace physicality, and it is not merely in the physical effort of a performer to produce a sound, but also in the potential intention of a sound itself to give birth to itself. Sound – it thinks.
At certain point in the recent years I started to develop a certain repulsion – a repulsion toward a way of using sounds as objects only able to perform one-dimensional, singular functions within a musical piece that are not altered over time. Between these sounds applied in the piece there is no humane connections – no audible humane connections. The relation between such composer and his musical materials is like that of a factory owner and his low-level workers, or of a whorehouse and its whores.
In a piece of music where there are only factory workers and whores, there exists only the dichotomy of sounds and not-sounds; either there is productivity or there is not. The consideration of silence is conveniently absent. The sounds, oh tired, tired whores used again and again and again, mechanically perform their functions with muscles flaccid and pale as dead fish. Not that I am against this kind of musical production – as there are effective, famous, important compositions that were built upon such diligent and organized capitalistic enterprise – but I am simply not going to buy it. I have become physically allergic to such artistic conduct, and have simply decided that I would build a (different kind of) relationship with my own music.
It is a relationship.
And it is a relationship between what is called Sound and what is called Silence. Both notions are physical yet abstract. Sound of Sound is so concrete as a result. How about Silence? Did not our musical forebears tell us that Silence is not only the absence of Sound? Of course it is much more; it does not even have to appear in the form of the sound of Silence. It is the womb of Sound; every sound is born from Silence. There is no exception. Silence is not an empty void; quite a contrary, it is everything besides. Phantoms, ghosts of music past, Janus with fingers pointing at every direction, unspeakable sins, premonitions of what will happen, prohibition of what is to happen, concealment of what is happening, scintillations of what will not happen….
Therefore, Sound and Silence realize each other, each another’s negative or shadow. Sound became less certain, less definite, as it belongs to the creations of Silence. It is a relationship, and a relationship activates movements and exchanges. One witnesses an object being born, developing and gaining agency, and ascertaining its subjectivity — constant movements. I turned toward this relationship, peering into the core of Silence, listening in the Unheard to the becoming-Heard.
* * * * * *
Double Jeopardy (2013) was coming alive. Proton musicians’ intelligence helped it so. One recognized everything. The brief moment right before a body pushes out a shoot of air. A deep inhalation beyond what a physical body can exercise. The shallow breathing preparing one to sleep. The palpitation that had being hammering all this time but only shockingly revealed at this moment. The double sides d’une geste qui sont puissantes et faibles simultanément….
I opened my eyes.
One day after the premiere I woke up late. My dream night was drugged headily with a sense of elation. The concert went beautifully. The 400-seat hall looked deliciously populated. Earlier in the afternoon a young man stood on a 40-feet high stage ladder to adjust a spotlight, and the radio station engineer listened harder than I did. My pregnant friend and her husband traveled from Genève, and my dear, elderly host traveled from up Bremgarten, to the Dampfzentrale. The flutist, elegant in physique and hardcore in performance technique, prior to the concert looked, in dismay, into the dressing area dominated by fellas in different stages of dressing and undressing and napping amidst their instruments. After the concert beer was half-priced, a token to our work. I remembered our Dutch composer said something very intelligent about his work. And, when being spoken to, the harpist pattered in such endearing, twangy Swiss German – I wish I could write a piece with that music!
Before my train, my host and, by now, a dear friend, cook for us a pot of slothy, soupy risotto with mushrooms. I had two servings. Afterward we drank tea and watched his two Finnish Lapphunds ventilating the back garden.
I caught my train from Bern to Genève. Switzerland is so beautiful! German regions it’s the well-maintained architectures and green moors, and French regions it’s the lakes. I sat stretching my legs over two seats, watching the sun setting across the Lac Léman and the Alpes, now close as giants.
I did not sleep – how could I sleep? All I could do was to think about what happened in the past few days in Bern. I relived every memory, be it my First Rehearsal angst or be it the audacious happiness post-concert. I then recalled a conversation I had with one of my new friends, a young, talented Swiss composer, after one of our rehearsals. We were talking about our rehearsals and our pieces. Then, I received the most beautiful complement.
He said to me, “You really love your sounds!”
I was happy. I knew I was starting to hear music.
Acknowledgment: Ensemble Proton Bern — Bettina Berger (flute), Martin Bliggenstorfer (lupophon), Richard Haynes (clarinet), Lucas A. Rössner (kontraforte), Maximilian Haft (violin), Jan-Filip Tupa (violoncello), Samuel Fried (piano), Vera Schnider (harp), Matthias Kuhn (conductor).
As one of the five winners of the music commission award Protonwerk Nº3, Mu-Xuan Lin composed Double Jeopardy (2013) for octet (flute, clarinet, lupophon, kontraforte, violin, violoncello, piano, harp) for Switzerland’s Ensemble Proton Bern. This new work was premiered on February 24th, 2014 in Bern (Switzerland) and will be broadcast by SRF2 kultur (Swiss Radio Station) on July 9th, 2014.
Ensemble Proton Bern is a rising new music ensemble based in Bern, Switzerland, who has been performing actively throughout Europe. Its mission to perfect the performances of a heavyweight repertoire consisted of technically progressive pieces from a plethora of artistic concerns and to commission young composers working from vastly diverse aesthetical spheres have been executed with integrity and passion. For the Protonwerk Nº3, Mu-Xuan was invited to include two new instruments – lupophon (bass oboe) and kontraforte (improved contrabassoon by Wolf) – in her instrumentation alongside flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano, and harp. Therefore, a simple commission developed into a project involving a three-month communication between the composer and the performers, a workshop, and four rehearsals leading to the premiere performance of the piece. It is at once an exploration into the technical and performance possibilities of instruments familiar and new, and an addition of a reinvigorated sound world to an existing repertoire of mid-scale chamber music.
Mu-Xuan’s Double Jeopardy contests the law of music – an irrevocable series of actions that cannot be heard repeatedly or ignorantly, no matter what the composer does. For every moment is both a stop-motion visceral experience and a trigger of consequences of what one heard or will hear, the audience is constantly at the mercy of being in the moment and out. Studying this law of music, Mu-Xuan’s 10-minute octet piece presents her contemplation on musical gestures in various stages of metamorphosis uttered at different chronological points.
Leading to the premiere of Double Jeopardy was a series of workshop and rehearsals, enabling the exchanges between the composer and the ensemble. The extensive writing for lupophon and kontraforte was the result of such collaboration, and Double Jeopardy is the fruition of such result which successfully integrates the new sonic colors of both instruments into a standard chamber music sound, providing references for further use of these instruments as they are gradually becoming popular in orchestras and chamber groups.
Petits Quatuors : I. petite chambre (2012), for string quartet. Recording of the live performance of the premiere by Lydian Quartet in December, 2012. The movement is under 3 minutes so shall be listened to in whole if possible.
Melancholia (2011) for percussion quartet/sextet. Recording from the premiere by Talujon Percussion Group in spring, 2012. The piece is 15-minute long, and one is advised to listen to the first 8 minutes if not the whole.
Start and End Dates