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Karen Tanaka

Publisher: Chester Music

Initium (1993),
Commissioned by the Min-On Concert Association
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
1993
Duration
13 Minutes


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Programme Note
Karen Tanaka Initium (1993),
Initium, in Latin, has several meanings. It would be most appropriate in this case to be translated as "beginning". My goal for this piece was to project the beginning of life onto the orchestral soundspace by listening to sound behaviour which exists in nature yet is waiting to be unveiled.

The first idea was to set the heart beat as an axis which serves as an undercurrent throughout the piece. Surrounding the axis are various elements, contrasting between harmonic and inharmonic spectra, simple and complex rhythms, and synchronizations at different speeds. Leading up to the peak of the piece, all of these elements are transmutating into their most complex state.

Prior to composing 'Initium', I spent two years researching new approaches to composition with the latest computer technologies at the Institut de recherche et coordination acoustique/musique (IRCAM) in Paris. I came away from this experience with the awareness that the computer is an integral part of compositional process for analyzing, synthesizing and understanding musical sound, and organizing musical structure. In 'Initium' I used computers to examine and organize spectra for compositional purposes.

In this piece, microphones are focused on 14 instruments of the orcehstra. These 14 sources are transformed by electronic pitch-shifting (via a "harmonizer") and digital reverberation. These transformed sounds, along with the sounds of two digital synthesizers, are balanced at the mixing console then sent to ten loudspeakers on the stage. The brass section and two synthesizers are positioned on the left and right sides of the stage symmetrically. The percussion instruments, performed by four percussionists, are arranged symmetrically as well. Besides the electronic spatialization of sound, I move the sound in and between the instrumental sections, and also in a non-sectional way in the orchestral soundspace.

In 'Initium', it was my intention that the finest details project the whole structure, and vice versa. Whether or not I have succeeded is up to the listener to decide.

© Karen Tanaka



  • Ensemble
    Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
    Conductor
    Kazuyoshi Akiyama
    Camerata:
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