2016, Ensemble, soft indetermination
Composed for Discordian Community Ensemble
I - Houblon Chouffe
II - Raging Bitch
III - Punk IPA
(see credits bellow)
140IBUs was composed specifically for Discordian Community Ensemble, to be recorded for the album Contrast/Movement (published by Discordian Records), a project that brought together five composers and eleven performers, all of them residing in Barcelona. The aim of the project (as it is always the case with DCE) was to fusion original contemporary compositions with conducted and free improvisation, a discipline in which all performers involved are proficient. The finished album includes a musical translation of a magic ritual (by El Pricto), a couple of expressionistic pieces (by Owen Kilfeather), reflections on the unmitigated thirsts of today's world (by Agustí Martínez), a de- and reconstruction of the elements of Metal music (by Pablo Carrascosa), and 140IBUs.
140IBUs was inspired by the sensations and character of three beers, all of them IPAs but very different from one another. The title of the piece is derived from the sum of each beer's International Bitterness Units and the texts used are lists of the hops for each recipe.
The first movement, inspired by the belgian "Houblon Chouffe", is written with very little space for indetermination. The whole harmony drones around one chord that could be described as the superposition at the distance of a tritone of two major chords (Eb and A), each with their minor sixth added—like a fatter Petrushka chord— or a full whole-tone set merged with a non-coincident tritone—Eb, E, F, G, A, Bb, B, C#. This chord stretches out through the movement as a low level drone in the harmonic texture and appears with different colorations that are subsets of the main chord. Instead of a strong fundamental this chord is given a central note at the higher extreme of the register, a natural E that drones as a held note for the most part of the movement passing from one instrument to another.
Although all notes are determined, all durations are more or less free and the beginning and conclusion of each instrument's intervention are signaled by the conductor within a context of pulseless rhythm. Another form of indetermination that appears throughout the movement is the use of textures that are suggested to the performer only by a description of their density and morphology.
The second movement is inspired by the american "Raging Bitch". It is the movement that makes the most use of indetermination and there is not any note precisely written. Instead, the whole movement consists of verbal instructions. These range from clear instructions like "glissandos with artificial harmonics, flautando" to more abstract prompts like "the fluttering of a drunk butterfly". The montage of these elements consists of four techniques: morphing between two different sonorities, development of a static texture giving structural direction to the material, disintegration into silence, and hard cut between two materials or to silence.
The third movement, inspired by thee scottish "Punk IPA", returns to the kind of writing of the first movement but with less control on the entries of each instrument. Therefore, there are less conductor cues and the musicians are given an approximate tempo (60 bpm) so that each instrument flows freely on top of the other. As for the harmony, it is based on series of altering majort thirds and major seconds.
You can read the general score of the whole piece below: