Notes

Change is constant.

 

Whether happening on a scale of geologic time, the span of one human lifetime, or even of immediate experience, everything is changing. The immediacy of shape-shifting illusion, lifetime “milestones,” even a five-minute trip to the grocery store — we experience change all the time.

 

And in that change, there is transformation; we’re different now, even from that trip to the grocery store, than we were just minutes ago. Yet, despite the changes, we’re still who we are. The same, yet different. Both, And.

 

This album is a reflection on this circle — change, transformation, and return. We hope you enjoy the journey with us. — 8SW

 

 

Loki’s Lair

Loki’s Lair (2018) is a short tour of a slightly quirky place. Like its owner, the dwelling has a mischievous air. Rooms sometimes have curved walls or odd angles. The eyes of the portraits follow your movements as you walk down the hallway. The furniture is nice enough, but something about the fabric choices combined with the shadows seem to play tricks with your eyes. The door you thought opened to the side yard leads instead back into another curved passageway. The whole time you’re there, music plays in your head, unbidden. It too is slightly quirky. Lines that seem to be a simple unison melody aren’t quite so, slip-sliding apart. A passage whose direction seems straightforward has an unexpected shift in register. Which instrument is playing this line or playing the lowest note in that chord? Two instruments play similar patterns, but they never line up. The music stops. You find yourself back outside, facing a little drawbridge, unable to remember the last few steps that got you there.

 

Loki’s Lair is affectionately dedicated to Eight Strings & a Whistle, whose superb musicianship has graced Winges-notes since the previous century. — Mark Winges

 

 

Maqām

Maqām was written in 1978, after a period in which I had been largely immersed in composing electronic music. In returning to the chamber medium, I was interested in rethinking my approach to melody and began to study traditional systems of melodic types and formulae: such systems are common to a number of ancient musical cultures, including those of Greece, the Middle East, and India. In particular, I was drawn to maqām, an Arabic system of melodic motives, tonal/spatial formulas, and improvisational techniques with roots in early Persian music. While neither the specific melodic material nor the tonal language found in my work is derived from this system, I feel that my approach to melodic invention nevertheless has a certain affinity with it. The title of this work is intended as an acknowledgement of a learning process, a gesture of respect, an attempt to create a point of resonance with this musical tradition rather than an appropriation of it.

 

Maqām was written for The Galliard Ensemble, in Toronto, and was premiered by them. — Paul Théberge

 

 

Two Journeys

Written for Eight Strings & a Whistle, Two Journeys (“Third Eye,” 2018; “The Inward Journey,” 2019) represents separate but connected journeys towards self-awakening, awareness, enlightenment, and greater spirituality.

 

The first Journey, “Third Eye,” begins with a solo flute line that starts with a long, middle-range F# (one of the more mystical-sounding flute notes, to me). Quickly flowing from that F# tone is a rapid group of six repeating notes (the sixth chakra is the third eye chakra). This solo represents a brief ceremonial calling—willingness—to open and seek one’s inner truth. Thus, the odyssey can begin.

 

The three instruments share similar energy — the viola and cello vibrating wood via bowed or plucked strings, the flute using life breath to vibrate a silver tube.

 

Throughout the movement, long stretches of uneven time signatures and sustained notes of differing lengths enable listeners to experience a feeling of being in the moment without measuring time as we do in the physical plane. “Third Eye” ends much as it began – with a single suspended flute note, but now with a high E. A seventh above the opening tone, the higher E symbolizes the seventh chakra (the crown chakra) which relates to pure consciousness.

 

“The Inward Journey” is a very sustained, slow-moving, meditative, and probing experience musically, as it is the actual journey (rather than a description) of leaving your world, the physical, the Earth plane, and all things familiar, including your comfort zone...at times. It is hypnotic and it might 'test' your patience, as some phrases don't resolve as immediately as we experience in much of our popular and classical music culture. Nonetheless there is an energy coming through, which overrides the initial Patience Stage — waiting/trying to hear or feel something/settling our thoughts/letting go of where we are, as we begin to transition in order to move into 'being in the moment.' The ending of this particular journey feels mystical to me. — Pamela Sklar

 

 

...and nothing remains the same.

This work is a musical essay on the ephemeral nature of our world. Things are never the same; each moment, each passing day, is but a prelude to the next. The constancy of change is a truth that poets and thinkers have wrestled with for centuries.

 

“...and nothing remains the same.” (2012) is the second movement of a larger work: On Impermanence. The first movement, “A Coming Together,” was composed in 2020. “...and nothing remains the same.” was composed eight years earlier.

 

It was inspired by this beautiful short poem* :

 

This world of ours
To what shall I compare it?
Put to sea in the morning,
A boat which rowed away
And left no track.

 

The opening unison note and static chords evolve into individual instrumental lines, gradually becoming more expressive and distinct. The instruments take turns breaking away into their own short cadenzas, leading to a polyphony of independent gestures. The work ends as the instrumental lines dissolve into fleeting, vaporous scale passages. — John Newell

 

 

Eidos II

Eidos II (2017) won the inaugural 8SW Composer Competition in 2018. The work is greatly influenced by Afro-Cuban rhythms and the folkloric ensembles used for Santería ceremonial music: three batá drummers, an akpwón (lead singer), and a choir that responds to the improvised calls of the akpwón. In Eidos II, the timbral homogeneity of the strings is used to create the percussion section, imitating the rhythmic patterns of batá drums. While the akpwón is represented by the flute, the singer’s improvised calls can be heard in the melodic lines throughout the work as well as the flute cadenza. The dialogues between the flute, viola, and cello reflect the responsorial element of these Afro-Cuban traditions.

 

Eidos II is the second of what will be a set of independent pieces for diverse instrumental ensembles. Eidos is a Greek term that means "type" or "species” and is a reference to the great diversity of musical instruments that can be played in different chamber ensembles. — 8SW

 

 

Souls

Souls was composed for Eight Strings & a Whistle in 2011. It draws its inspiration from the Hungarian Shaman tradition, which focuses on the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds. In this work, Kőszeghy explores different tone colors through the layering of notes and bending of pitch. Coupling intricate rhythms with accentuation, he creates a unique ethereal sound environment. Souls is a pathway, created by sound, from the material world to the spiritual world, where the soul is free to move without restrictions. This is very much how Kőszeghy believes music should be — emotionally stirring without being encumbered by a set of technical, theory-based rules. — 8SW

 

 

* “‘This world of ours. . .’ by Shami Mansei (Manyoshu version),’’ translated by Kenneth Rexroth, from ONE HUNDRED MORE POEMS FROM THE JAPANESE, copyright ©1974, 1976 by Kenneth Rexroth. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

 

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Ravello Records is the contemporary classical label imprint of audio production house PARMA Recordings. Dedicated to highlighting forward thinking composers and musicians from around the world, the New England-based label's eclectic catalog offers listeners a cross-section of today's up-and-coming innovators in orchestral, chamber, and experimental music.

 

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