Version for Ensemble (2 – 9 players)
Ten pieces (or movements)
I. Okinawa Dance
II. Tokyo Song
III. Hong Kong Dance
IV. Holy Mountain Song
V. River Song
VI. Swan Dance
VII. Rotterdam Song
VIII. Clear Island Dance
IX. Night Train Song
X. Underground Dance
Songs & Dances is commissioned by VAKIR, a Rotterdam Society for Chamber music musicians, for their 30th Anniversary. For this commission I formulated two goals. Firstly, the society has members that play various instruments on various levels, therefore I wanted to make something in which everybody that wants to participate can. Secondly I aim for music that would appeal to both professionals and amateurs.
The score is constructed in such a way, that the instrumentation, and what parts to play, can be chosen by the ensemble, and there is room for variations and improvisation. See example of the 1st movement below.
Below the example you can read the instructions from the score.
For Songs & Dances, my point of departure was the novel Ghostwritten of David Mitchell that contains ten stories that take place in different countries around the world, where some characters, or storylines, accidentally cross each other. Another binding factor is that there is a ghost who travels from body to body and observes what happens in the world.
The score is set up for unspecified instruments which are categorised as Melody-, Alt-, Bass-, and Chord-instruments (piano and/or 2 guitars). Each movement can be played in various arrangements from two (the main melody + piano) to the maximum of parts within a movement (example: the first movement can be played by up to eight players).
The ensemble chooses it’s own arrangement (parts for transposing instruments available upon request), paying attention to the following:
- The ensemble can omit melodyparts, but must keep the main melody.
- (For example: first movement, bars 5–8,upper voice.)
- If a part is doubled in another part, one of the two can be omitted.
- (For example: first movement, bars 5–12 the altopart doubles a part in the chordinstrument).
- If multiple parts have the same music, not every note has to be played simultaneously, nor by the same instrument.When the indication solois written, it is preferably played by one instrument at a time, although the solo can be divided amongdifferent(For example: first movement, bars 35–55 contains a solothat can be divided between three melodyinstruments.)
- The parts for melodyinstruments can be played in other octaves or can be adapted to the range of your instrument. If a melodyis transposed to another octave, it might be wise to consider transposing other parts as well. This needs to be done with caution, especially with melody and bass, because of the danger of voice
- (For example,first movement, bars 5–8:if the top voice is played one octave lower, then also transpose the two other melodicparts down one octave, otherwise the melodyis lower than the second melody.)
There is also the possibility of variations and / or improvisations.
This section is optional, an ensemble doesn’t need to vary or improvise. In general I would recommend to first learn the music as it is written, and then develope variations and/or improvisations. Here are some guidelines:
- When melodies are repeated, they can be varied.(For example: first movement, bars 9–12 and measure 13–16 arethe repetitions of measures 5–11, and can be varied.)
- If parts are too difficult, a simpler version can be made by omitting notes.
- If there is a solo, it can be varied or replaced by improvisation. This is indicated in the score. (For example: first movement, bars 35–55, or bars 73–101.)
- The ensemble can create (a) seperate section(s), by looping certain bars, for improvisation.
- If there is a percussionist, he/shecan insert his/herown part based on the score, entirely according to own taste and ability.
- A player can also use specific playing techniques, for example: stringplayers can use arco and pizzicato, windplayers can add flattertongue or slap-tonguing etc.
- When an arrangement is made, let your musical ear and taste judge if it works well. If not, make adjustments. Keep it transparent, it’s better to alternate between instruments, then to let everybody play constantly.