Quaerere Sententias I
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Quaerere Sententias (“search for meaning”) is a collection of pieces composed for soloists, digital audio, and video. The first set, Quaerere Sententias I, is comprised of three pieces: Introit, for trumpet; Hiram, for clarinet; and Musashi, for flute. Each piece in Quaerere Sententias is concerned with an historic example of an individual or culture’s pursuit of purpose and related ontological ideas. Through presenting these concepts literally and abstractly in the medium of electroacoustic music and video, the meaning of associated cultural symbols is also explored. Introit serves as a prologue to Quaerere Sententias I. Musical material is drawn from the melody of L’homme armé, just as composers of Renaissance masses employed the same to derive their material. The music evokes a sacred soundscape, as the video presents a sketched space based on Saint Gatien’s Cathedral in Tours. Tours served as the home to Burgundian composer Antoine Busnois, whose Missa L’homme armé was highly inspirational in the creation of Introit. Hiram takes its title from Hiram Bingham III, whose writings and photographs are featured in the video. Bingham’s search for Machu Picchu is the narrative focus behind the piece, as is the sense of purpose derived from the uncovering of an ancient civilization. Simultaneously, Hiram is concerned with the mysteries of Incan ontology, lost to time even as Quechua people populate the Andes today. The musical material of Hiram is influenced by Andean traditions such as the huanyo. Samples of Peruvian instruments, including zampoña, qena, and cajón, are featured in the fixed part. Musashi is inspired by Go Rin No Sho, a treatise on strategy by the legendary ronin swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. The musical material is inspired by Honshirabe, a staple of shakuhachi repertoire. Throughout the piece, the fixed part is derived from samples of taiko and shakuhachi, the metallic clash and scrape of swords, and a reading of the Fudō-myōō sutra, creating a soundscape to parallel Musashi’s blend of Zen spirituality with merciless violence. Elements of taiko performance are also influential— particularly oroshi, a gesture in which the interval between events is reduced over time.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- Technical and performance notes -- Program notes -- Introit -- Hiram -- Musashi -- Vita