Composing process – PSALM XIII

In May 2014 I travelled to Amsterdam for several meetings and concerts, and sitting in a café for a break, relaxing in the sun, I had received an email. The text was as following: “when will we receive the material? You are late.”
Panic. That was a message from Austria by a contemporary ensemble ‘Klangforum Wien’ – they just wanted to inform me that I am missing the deadline for a piece for string quartet that I should had written. I believed that the deadline was – 2015, not 2014. What a total failure. They gave me some more days. That day was Thursday and the material should be sent by email on Sunday evening.
Immediately I borrowed a music paper sheet from Christian (Karlsen, conductor and friend of mine I visited than) and started to compose. I asked him to show me all scores of string quartets he had at home (and in his library is almost only the contemporary music), but it was just disturbing – I needed to compose my own music.
I composed it everywhere I managed to, even on the airport. Every few measures I composed, I took a picture of it by mobile and sent it immediately to my copyist in Argentina. Despite the fact that I am a professional violinist too, I tired to avoid composing for string quartet for several years.
But now, such a pressure…
Finally, the piece was finished in three days. That reminds me Shostakovich who composed his 8th Quartet in three days as well.


Psalm XIII is composed in the late May as the final part of “Patterns of intuition”, an arts-based research project hosted by the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and funded by the Austrian Science Fund. Psalm XIII is originally composed as a string quartet, which was premiered by Klangforum Wien, and later orchestrated for symphonic string orchestra which was premiered by Alabama Symphony and Rune Bergman.
The composition is built on a single melody line, a chant – as a singer in church, synagogue or mosque; and a single pedal tone called ison, a kind of repetitive sound that should be played as a mantra-background, imitating church bells, sitar or nasal singing.
My intention was to develop music out of this simple genome and to find the entire new creation – echoes that come from the heart’s humility and compassion.

To the choirmaster.
A Psalm of David No. 13
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
 and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
 lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

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