“die Grenzen der Sprache” (2014). Alto flute/Flute, B♭ clar, Tuba, Percussion, Piano.

Rabbit or Duck?eng [the Limits of Language]. A work for Alto flute/Flute, B♭ clarinet, Tuba, Percussion, Piano.  To be premiered in Münster on June 10, 2014.

In an attempt to further explore the difficult question of ‘meaning’ in my music, I turn more and more to studying linguistic parallels.  This in turn has led me to Wittgenstein, and his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.  His proposition that ‘the limits of my language are the limits of my world’ has struck me as a key point in my pursuits.  He goes on to further state that ‘what cannot be said, must be passed over in silence’, but what could this mean in the realm of music?  Are the similarities between music and language enough that one could logically follow this line of thinking within a language of sound?  These thoughts remained present throughout the composition of this work and it’s conceptual companion,  my solo trumpet/MaxMSP work the Strand (3.262)

For source material, I made audio recordings of myself reading various lines from the Tractatus, and spectrally analyzed them to determine their overtone content.  This raw musical material was then manipulated and parsed in various ways. From these resultant transformations, selections were made that suggested the desired narrative: a reaching, a stretching, where a featured line (instrument) would explore the boundaries of some limit.  This limit could be technical (ie. extremely high/low notes in the tuba),  or a more abstract musical idea where the material was pushed to some kind of breaking limitation (i.e. the accelerations to a frenzy of cascading notes).  The work also explores a gamut of musical spaces and textures.  A single instrument is contrasted with the ensemble,  slower pensive passages are complemented with energy and angularity, the psychological effect of ‘remembering’ previous music contrasted with new surprises–these pairings define the musical space.  Each instrument is featured in a unique way, striving to reach it’s own limit.