The Fall

Music for saxophone, accordion and double bass.
Premiered February 16, 2000.

After The Leap I wrote The Fall. In the summer of 1999 I was contacted by some friends who had just started a new ensemble. The name was Poing and the instruments were saxophone, accordion and double bass. They wanted to commission new music by young composers, and wondered if I wanted to write something. From a timbral point of view it seemed difficult to write for this combination of instruments, but at the same time rumours had spread that these people could play almost everything, and that they preferably wanted to play newly written music. My answer was of course yes and I set about composing what would become the piece The Fall.

The concept of the The Fall was inspired by Albert Camus’ novel by the same name. I was fascinated by the structure of the narrative in this existential novel in which a life crisis with a subsequent fall away from the happy but hypocritical bourgeoisie life is treated. The main character begins life as a successful and idealistic lawyer in Paris but ends up stranded in a bar in Amsterdam. The environment that surrounds him emphasizes the decline, and the series of concentric circles that make up Amsterdam’s canals have made several people point to the parallels between Camus’ Amsterdam and the circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno.

In the compositional techniques of the piece I wanted to work with the same structures. I wanted to start with a utopian musical structure, a seemingly timbral, rhythmic and harmonic bliss. This artificially constructed musical situation was gradually broken down step by step until there were only remnants left. Through computer assisted composition, I was able to stretch and bend all the parameters of the musical structure in a completely flexible manner so that the degradation of the musical segments would take place gradually just like in the novel. The novel opens with the end before we go back to the beginning of the story. In the same way the piece also opens with the last remnants of the musical material before it continued with the degradation of the original utopian musical structure.

The piece was premiered at the club Blå in Oslo, February 16th 2000. Many young Norwegian composers in the late nineties were very preoccupied with the neo-complexity movement in music. Modernism with Stockhausen and Boulez, as well as later composers such as Brian Ferneyhough and Richard Barrett, stood as an essential corrective to our parents’ generations focus on timbre and gesture. This rather childish, but important grandfather-uprising, resulted in several “retro-modernist” Norwegian pieces, and with the ensemble Poing there were musicians who both wanted and was able to play this music. Today it is no longer as easy to find the direct traces of this music in Norway, but for a short period, this form of structural complexity was taken dead serious for young Norwegian composers.

In the same way as the novel, the composition opens with the last remnants of the musical material.
After a few bars, the musical composition continues with the original utopian musical structure and the breakdown of it.