2013 “Rives & Dérives II” for 4 choirs and drone choir.
Rives & Dérives (Shores & Drifts) is a cycle of several pieces for drones and musical sound sources, based on a series of score drawings Sandeep Bhagwati made in 2011. Version I was an outdoor performance for ship sirens and a choir dispersed in the listening crowd, the score was realized as a stack of prompter cards. Version II is an indoor piece for 5 choral groups, one providing the drones and the other four following a computer-animated rendering of the drawings with precise guides for speed, pitch contours and vocal sounds. Version III is for up to 4 glissando-instruments and drone ensemble, the difference to II just lies in the sounds evoked – and lines of poetry that serve as mood prompts.
All versions are 21 minutes long – an arbitrary length set by the composer: for each piece could potentially be infinitely long. In this concert, dedicated to Rives & Dérives II and III, we will hear two versions with different internal architectures, but with essentially the same material: reflected in two very different sets of musicking bodies, different features of the underlying score emerge, and each version serves as a kind of distorted mirror to the other.
For a listener, these differences initially may not amount to much dramaturgically: after all, each time we sit on a shore, the waves and drifts we encounter are indeed different – but we usually take these differences in stride. However, once we focus our attention on the various sonic drifts, spatialized across the room, the recurring structures, the wave-like waxing and waning of sounds in this piece, our listening becomes open-eared, neither demanding convincing dramaturgy nor relinquishing a focused attention on what happens. Meanings drift and the shores behind us fall away into the drone horizon. Perhaps an ideal moment to fall asleep and let the music wash over you. Or a moment to stay extra wide awake and be aware of every little, precious, ephemeral sound. Both states at the same time would be optimal – sleep and hyper-presence, dream and superrealism. Just like the musicians, who are caught in a temporal structure they cannot control, and yet must improvise their way out of it. Rives & Dérives is an exercise in musical and receptive paradoxes. To be listened to, ideally, with a river nearby, or with the sea inside your ear.