How to perform ON THE GUARDING OF THE HEART

There is a certain difficulty to perform a new piece, both for instrumentalists and conductors. The most demanding task is to understand ideas behind the work and each role the instrumental or vocal part has in the piece. However, this is not a description of the piece (descriptions can be rather boring), but it is more a description how to approach practising and make it more effective.

Here I will describe a way to practice, rehears and perform my piece “On the Guarding of the Heart”. I will describe it as my intentions and ideas. These thoughts are not only technical but can also be emotional, aesthetic or philosophic, therefore I beg reader’s pardon if it is not always well defined, or if it is unclear. I am not native English speaker. All these reflections are my own; however if you are performer you can do it in your own way. I will respect all your intentions, unconditionally.


Description by measures.

M1

The piece starts in a kind of sound genesis, which can be also a universal genesis, beginning of matter, or birth of life, a summation of time.

CELLO and BASS should play extremely flautando; the sound should be similar to the Indian sitar­—but bowed, very nasal and vibrant. They should make a field of the pedal tone, with a resonating body.

VIOLIN 1+2 and VIOLA have a genetic birth; or thousands of genomes and thoughts that flow in a deep prayer. The thoughts come and disappear rapidly. Everything should be played extremely distant, as watching insects, ants on their anthill. The phrases of these instruments should not be played espressivo. A lot of bow is required.

PERCUSSION makes high partials by bowing a cymbal. The cymbal should be as thin as possible, which will produce thousands of audible information. It supports violins and viola, but also piano in their acoustics.

All other wind instruments support this sound, particularly TROMBONE with small flashes by opening the mute.

M4

The PIANO enters with a self-sacrificing idea, it represents awakening from the dreamy world. It sums up all, and makes everything one and clear. Piano plays strongly, without trying to land in the dreamy world of other instruments. Its playing is like a moment of discovery of a scientists. It is the intellectual sum of the mind in a prayer.

M14

The PIANO finishes at the Ab and the winds take over that note by voice. They make a crescendo, which will, at the maximum just before M17, support the piano’s phrase. The voices should be clearly audible just before the piano’s entrance.

M23

Prior M23 a power should be accumulated. At the Crystallisation, everything cleans up; the PIANO has repetitive e-a interval and attempts to keep the path clean. The OBOE has a soloistic melody, which comes and disappears.

M24

The STRINGS start to play the multiple trills. This will, together with the extreme ponticello, make an electric sound, small crystals falling down, flying of invisible beings.

M28

The BRASS starts with multiplication of the flashes. They develop in to more soloistic playing in M37 where HORN & TRUMPET have an ecstasy of flashes; they support each other in a very inexplicable counterpoint.

M45

Here is a high friction of substances, condensation of matter; but everything on distance, like experiencing the power of a far superstar. The power should be kept down, but the intensity up. There are very small crescendos, which in multiplication move from one to the other part of the ensemble.

M48

Here we have a kind of small storm in the low instruments, extremely staccato, and ponticello, almost everything is springing.

M49

The TRUMPET starts with preparing of the realisation for the future friction – make it soloistic, in flames of the sound. It is a spiral that turns in to its end.

M53

With an unceasing power keep the sound equal, and even try to make a crescendo, even if it seems to be impossible. For the CONDUCTOR: my vision is, but not necessarily important to do it so, to slowly move hands upwards, showing an amazing energy, like preparing to lift the sun. This is a very long moment: one 3/8 measure should be repeated 36 times, but not conducted. None of the players should actually count it, but just the conductor inside of him/herself. The 36-times is not important, it can be also 25, but the feeling of the energy is the most important. This sound, when long played, tends to melt in the ears of listeners, and so there is no longer pitch information rather just the pure, white sound.

M54

The PERCUSSION is awakening from a dream in a strong outbreak; it represents an attack of demon in a deep prayer. The PIANO flies upwards, trying to reach the top, but never succeeds from here and onwards. Here is important that these crescendos on all other instruments are only the pressure in the last moment to the forte. Therefore here we have more piano and less of the other’s crescendos. In that way the piano will have room to develop, and around it will be just flashes of others (of fortes).

M56

The TRUMPET has the soloistic melodies onwards. It should be as a calling upon the peace.

M67/68

Here should the sound be pressed and smashed, compressed extremely. After the tumult (just measures before), here comes everything to the end.

M70

All small rhythm values (32) should be played in such way that they melt together. It is a way of micro-polyphony, rather than some important counterpoint. The STRINGS should play these 32-tones extremely flautando: it means that the bow will move very much but touching the strings with one or two hairs, almost like a video recording with the sound off. The CELLO solo melody should be played (and sung) as a child song: plain, innocent, simple, and no romantic.

M111

The PIANO rhythm should be always equal (the grace notes). It represents the heartbeats when you are alone in a secret meditation. The pianist should press the string inside of the instrument in such way (very close to the tuning pegs) to get a damped yet voluminous sound. Keep the pedal down always to get more acoustic effect.

M114

The STRINGS here are like a fresh fog in the early morning. It should be performed extremely light and with a lot of moving space (more bow – less pressure). Everything onwards is like climbing on the hill of sounds. In M130 the PERCUSSION goes to the pianist and play with the mallets inside of the piano on the same string of the heartbeats.

M131

Represents the first mental focus. Everything is put in to one, everything become the unity, fusion of totality. Also on M133 and M135 too.

M136

Here, after the total concentration of the eternity, we slowly fall apart and everything starts to dissolve. It is a slow awakening from the dream.

M146

Here starts the VIOLA solo. It can be a short viola-concerto. In M147 the PIANO has pearls and crystals falling around. In M148 the STRINGS have an extreme pressure. The PERCUSSION should keep the pedal tone audible.

M176

In general the PIANIST will play all 16-notes in tempo, but free fermatas. Other solutions are possible too. That measure will be repeated 5 times in total. It is affection of the soul, an intimate conversation between mind and soul. In M177 awakening is lifting the mind.

M184

Here the PIANO has the soloistic roll. There are pedal tones that are lifting, in continuation. These pedal tones are a kind of concentration. In M213 we reach a high friction of concentration.

M216

Here starts a kind of perpetuum mobile, with pedal tone in the PIANO. Keep the dynamics in such way that it is very little at first and gradually increasingly more crescendo. Here you can hear that the TRUMPET climbs, from M220. The top of the TRUMPET is in M235 when the rest of the orchestra is climbing even more.

M250

The BRASS has acceleration. It should sound as flashes, and gradually accelerating it, almost playing as very short (at the last end).

M253

Despite its very low dynamics, the woodwinds make a dust. And that dust becomes more apparent. On the real end use an extreme crescendo, even allowing overblowing or strong air-pressure sounds.

M257

The STRINGS make a clarification of the turbulent world. They try to focus mind, to clean the soul. It happens finally in M267, which seems to be similar to M53.

M267

It is attempt to condensate everything in mind and soul, it is understanding of the totality, it is putting all things at their proper place in the universe. It is order of the faith. It is a state exempt from the evil.

Here the CONDUCTOR should show an immense power of density and probably keeping the hands strongly showing the energy, slowly lifting them up. It is a very long moment; the one measure is to be repeated 27 times (approximately)! The sound must melt walls in the hall, the audience should stop breathing, and every single atom and particles of time should condense in ‘the true unfading light, in the eternal life, in hidden mystery, in everlasting exultation, in ineffable reality, and will come close to the incomprehensible face’.

The sound should absolutely no loose its power, however, it should be expanded as much as instruments allow it. No one is counting the measures, but only the conductor, but mentally. The last measure of the repeating should probably be conducted (conductor will secretly show the last four measures). No accent is allowed on the end, but super-real crescendo is possible.

The echo of the piano’s strings is going back to its primordial state. Keep the pedal down as much as it is allowed by acoustics of the piano and in the hall.


Assistance for the first rehearsal

An extreme demanding task is – the first rehearsal. The conductor and musicians, if not heard the piece before, will not have any clue how it sounds. The conductor will slice the work in small parts, both vertically and horizontally. My humble advice, which I leave completely arbitrary, is not to play the piece entirely together at the first try, since there is no “feeling of the music” that you can develop in that manner, trying to connect the dots. The musicians tend to play everything in mezzo dynamics, and the correct balance is the most tricky to “learn”. When playing Schubert at the first rehearsal we can go through the piece at the first attempt. It is so because we know what are the structural rolls in the piece, even if we look only at our own instrumental parts.

The simple thing is to teach the players their roles, since they don’t study the score. Here follows a short list of the fields to be practiced separately, as a startup idea.

M 1-22

A-field – separate: {VC+CB}; {VN1+VN2+VLA+PERC}.
B-field – PNO.

M 23-35

A-field – separate: {WW}; {BRS}; {STR}.
B-field – {PNO+BRS}.

M 37-45

A-field: {HN+TRP}
B-field: {STR}.

M 73-82

A-field: {OB+BSN+TBN+PRC+PNO+VC}.
B-field: {FL+CL+VN1+VN2+VLA}.

And so on.


Explanation of the composition

The composition is made partly by pure improvisation in the reality (on violin, piano, singing), and pure improvisation of the mind. There are logical structures in the piece, but the flow of free invention is more important. The total sound must appear as a pure improvisation. The main focus of the music is that it should impact the spiritual experience of the audience.

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