what is not, is not
instrumentation : solo percussion (chimes + vibraphone)
duration : 8’25”
premiere : 05.02.10 by Trevor Saint | Fairbanks
Composers are still grappling with the conundrum of how our music is perceived. When writing a piece it is easy to become fixated on the reaction one expects from certain groups of people who play specific roles in our music- either audience, performer, or composer. To write what we think is effective, we are tempted to fill our music with a “truth” which speaks directly to one of these groups.
what is not, is not is the fourth in a series of pieces subtitled “Ecosystems.” These works all originate from the idea of creating a musical environment, rather than following a developmental path. Each piece has a program—an underlying story or situation—which guides my thoughts while composing. what is not, is not is the first of the “Ecosystems” to be written without any program in mind. Instead, it started as a brief intuition of sound. While I have had to accept the barrier of communication inherent in my other pieces, I am excited that what is not, is not has no barriers, for the simple reason that it communicates no story. Instead, my hope is that it will create a program in each person who experiences it—listener, performer.
Parmenides had the reputation of a philosophical prankster. His explanation of motion came from his assertions that what is, is, and that what is not, is not. This claim—that there is nothing which “is not,”—is empowering when considering the walls we set up between music and its listeners. In the absence of a message for the listener, a message is made within the person hearing the music. Parmenides says that no matter how hard I try to control meaning in my music, it is always liberating itself, it is always refusing to be made null, it is always reaching to its audience and saying something. Everything is silence, and yet there is no silence.
[performed by Trevor Saint]