for Teresa Díaz de Cossio- solo bass flute w/ live signal processing of 8- channel spatialization



Mar 2020

Premiere at Teresa Díaz de Cossio's DMA recital @ the Experimental Theater at UCSD.

As we were rehearsing the piece, Teresa told me that there was one night when she was practicing it in her room, and had the feeling of being outside of her body. In this moment, she felt that she was able to hear and see herself from the outside. I was very moved when she told me this, because this kind of experience was exactly what I was trying to achieve in writing this piece, and has been an interest in many of my recent works. Some of my most personal experiences in recent years have driven me to think a lot about who we as artists write, or play a piece for, and for me the answer has to be for oneself. I wish to compose pieces that invite performers into a personal space where they can communicate with themselves sincerely, seeking answers and release through this internal dialogue with their innermost self. A Japanese Noh theater performer, Kofumi-san used to say: if you’re on stage, it’s as if you’re completely naked, and that a perfect artist needs the grace and dignity to exist in that situation. This quote reminds me of the exposure that one can feel going through this dialogue in front of others, and the sense of space and nakedness is an important emotional and musical part of this piece. Teresa told me later that as she practiced the piece, the experience of dialoging with herself became deeper over time, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work with a performer who is so sensitive to these experiences, and willing to go through the journey of working on this piece with me.


This piece is composed around the lowest pitch of a bass flute and is aimed to explore the tuning and harmonic space around the C- fundamental including multi-phonics built upon the C, microtonal deviations aroundthe C as well as tiny melodic fragments composed centered around the C. Regarding maximally triggering the psyche space embedded in the performer’s mind, in this already set tuning space to generate more sonic variations, I took circular breathing in consideration. The question I asked myself before I even wrote down one note for this piece was, how could I create a space for the player that he/she could breathe freely but simultaneously strugglingly. Time is essential: the player needs a relative freer time zone but with certain crucial constraints; although those constraints are not from the rhythm/tempo or time calculations but rather, directly coming from the sphere of muscle gestures on playing the instrument.Flutists naturally sing vowels into the flutes when they play as long song singers naturally choose the order of vowels they want to project in the long song melisma. This is an idiomatic language embedded. What if I require them to sing vowels with specificity, particularly in this relative already challenging tuning space.  The entire score has no time signature and tempo indications giving the flutist the free time-space. Occasionally tempo indication is functioned to set the speed of microtonal deviations. Vowels above the notes indicate specifically how the flutist should project vowels into the flute, including in consideration of the tongue positions. With the circle: the tongue has to be positioned far back in the mouth; with the semicircle: the tongue has to be extremely front almost touching the teeth. 


In the live signal processing part, I also embedded this consideration when I wrote my q-list.The q-list is to arrange the degree of parameters function in manipulating live signals. I enabled my processing to manipulate live signals in an extremely subtle way that it should be so imperceivable as almost an illusional aura for the performer when live interacting with the signals sent by himself/herself. The degree of pitch shifting after the delay is so small with a slightly time difference from 1 second, 4 seconds, 5 seconds and 6 seconds assigned to four spatial speakers. My choices for those pitch shiftings are less than 60 in PD which result in pitches microtonally deviating in a squeezed space between eighth tone and quarter tone.