Masques (1969/80/90) for six percussion groups (played by six percussionists) originally consisted of three movements: Bali, Tibet and China. Their central concepts are based in oriental masks, and in this connection the movements try to express some imaginary ritual, although this should not be taken too literally; it was more by a way of a leitmotif when I wrote the piece.
The more or less obvious allusions to the music of the Far East, not uncommon in contemporary Western music, can be explained partly on the basis of the very nature of the percussion instruments, and partly on the basis of a fundamental primitiveness which I found very important, as it defined new limits on the actual element of display and development.
I have tried also to limit the role of the performer as much as possible, in order to allow another kind of expressiveness than the instrumentalist in particular can lend to a piece of music; one may regard this as a mask, too.
The work was written for and is dedicated to percussionist, Professor Bent Lylloff, whose service to Danish music is well-known, and who was indeed the very reason why Masques was composed at all.
In 1996 I completed to additional movements of Masques: Japan, which had been a fragment since 1980, and the completely new Java.
- Ole Buck.