Taylan Cihan, 2012
Annie Lewandowski, amplified accordion
Andrew Lucia, visuals
Chris Kim, Niccolo Athens, Amit Gilutz - conductors,
Cornell Symphony Orchestra
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Bailey Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
An (pronounced as ahn) is a Turkish word for moment. The piece is an homage to Pauline Oliveros, and to her unique concept, deep listening. Deep listening is a collection of mental exercises designed to increase the awareness of the moment, bringing the performer to a level of aural consciousness where listening itself becomes the main tool of music making. In her music, she achieves such a state through improvisation, usually in a completely free manner without any form of written or verbal instructions, only to be guided by listening to the moment. An does have written instructions, however, the piece also explores the deep listening concept through a score encouraging performers to improvise.
An is based on the spectral analysis of a bowed cymbal sound, which I have re-orchestrated for the instruments of a symphony orchestra. The result is a rich, composite sound resonating the hall from the stage as well as from the balconies. An was composed for three separate orchestras with almost identical instrumentation and their own conductor, where the principle was located on the stage with the auxiliaries on the left and right balconies. A 6.2 surround sound system was used to play the electronics part with the speakers distributed in the hall around the orchestras. Combined with Lucia's visuals, the result was an intense ambisonic experience.
Performance Notes on the Visualiztion:
When Cihan approached me to compose a visual work to accompany An, I immediately accepted without prior listening, which would not actually come about for many weeks. Instead, what Cihan described to me was a spectral process, one that is constructed from the atomized world of adjacent sound qualities.
Rather than proceed with the visuals for An from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I felt it crucial to work within the constructive logic employed by Cihan in this spectral approach, albeit in light rather than sound. In this sense, the aesthetic qualities are a direct result of an evolving image texture, one that relies entirely on the flow of discrete spatial and temporal light adjacencies. In this sense, the progressive image that accompanies An does not act as a metaphor or representation of Cihan’s work, but rather is itself an action, a process, or more precisely is currently “in action.”
Furthermore, this visual work is inexact--allowing imprecision to play a roll in its actualization, much the way An is intentionally scored and performed with an insistence upon performer fluctuation as an essential qualitative characteristics of the “sound mass” as it evolves through time.
Note: the image one sees is operating in real-time; this is not a pre-recorded accompaniment to Cihan’s work.