Continuous Replay 2012

Continuous Replay 2012

Choreography: Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane

Music Composed by Jerome Begin

When approached by Bill T. Jones to write a new score for the work which featured live classical string music, there were two challenges I had to face. First, I thought John Oswald’s score–a score which pulls samples from several sound sources, ranging from Aboriginal shouts to Motown–worked brilliantly for the piece, so I needed to figure out what I could bring to the work.  Second, I had to find a way of using existing classical music that both served the dance and interested me as a composer. My solution to these challenges led me to construct a work very much with John Oswald in mind, applying his Plunderphonics approach acoustically to classical music. As a way of limiting my palette, I chose as the source material Beethoven’s first and last String Quartets, numbers 1 and 16. Every note in the work comes from these two Beethoven quartets. The quartets have been pulled apart, jumbled up, and put back together again. I gave myself rules concerning what kind of manipulations were allowed to be performed on the material, i.e. stretching of time, rhythmic displacement, simultaneous occurrences of different passages.  It was important to maintain the familiarity of this music as well, important that the audience is aware that this comes directly from classical music. There is an instruction in the score for the players that reads, “If it looks like Beethoven, it should sound like Beethoven.”  There is also diverse electronic sound score which brings another layer of sound to the work–another nod to John Oswald.  At times the sound score weaves in and out of, floats among, and/or attacks the string quartet (think Kung Fu fighting), adding a touch of reflection, absurdity, and humor to the work. Combining, stretching, mangling, and recombining pieces from the start and conclusion of one of Beethoven’s journeys proved to be quite satisfying–in a way putting Beethoven himself on continuous replay.  I hope he doesn’t mind…

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