for kali

for vl, vc, fl, cl, harm, pn, and computer — 30'00" 2024

for kali is a cycle of pieces commissioned by Ensemble Kali inspired by the repertoire of Maghrebin-Andalusī nūbat, and in particular their modal harmony and slower, semi-improvised sections.

part of the compositional process consists in analyzing and rearranging the individual modes of traditional nūbat thanks to customized algorithms on SuperCollider, retuning and recontextualizing them in the framework of rational tuning systems. more specifically, the accidentals of the nūbat travel between 3 poles of rational tunings, i.e.  three mixed septimal colors: 7-5, 7-11 and 7-19. 

following Clarence Barlow's harmonicity formula, a second stage of the composition consists in computing the harmonicity of the intervals made between each degree of the scale of a nūba in relation to its first degree. these harmonicity values are then used as probability weights to generate melodic sequences thanks to stochastic processes. 

the purpose of unmeasured notation is to re-introduce in my pieces the heterophonic and flexible unisson found in these preludes opening a traditional nūba. it also balances a collective playfulness and an individual agency for each performer.     

all these technical aspects aside, i believe that the pieces will end up having a kind of 'hollowness' in them —like having emptied the substance of these music traditions and eventually finding something that has everything and nothing to do with them. 

this cycle of pieces could result in ±12 new pieces for ensemble and/or electronics. the latter could also be presented as an individual sound installation that could run for 24 hours, like the original cycle of nūbat. all these are idealistic visions, but to start more humbly, a first 30-minute cycle of pieces for piano, harmonium, clarinet, flute, violin and cello will see the light of day in Sept. 2024 and be performed by the great Hague-based Ensemble Kali.

in passing, if some of you are interested in getting some resources about this specific repertoire, always feel free to get in touch

this research and cycle of pieces is made possible with the generous support from Studio LoosInstitut Français NL and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies

excerpt of the score
excerpt of the score