Christopher Trapani (1980)

North (2002-2003)

pour orchestre

  • Informations générales
    • Date de composition : 2002 - 2003
    • Durée : 06 mn 20 s
    • Éditeur : Inédit
Effectif détaillé
  • flûte piccolo, 2 flûtes (aussi 1 flûte), hautbois, cor anglais, 2 clarinettes, clarinette basse, 2 bassons, contrebasson, 4 cors, 2 trompettes [en ut] , 2 trombones, tuba, 1 percussionniste, harpe, mandoline, piano (aussi cymbales à doigt), 12 violons, 12 violons II, 10 altos, 8 violoncelles, 6 contrebasses

Information sur la création

  • Date : 17 March 2004
    Lieu :

    Royaume-Uni, Londres, Royal College of Music

    Interprètes :

    le RCM Sinfonietta, direction : Clement Power.

Note de programme

North and Canaries in the Morning, Balloons at Night were conceived as complementary portraits, opposite canvases of a diptych. Though the pieces may be performed separately, they are best understood when heard as a pair, since sonorities, details of orchestration, and formal contours are mirrored and cross-referenced between the two works. Together, they present a mappamondo of my life to the present, with various places I’ve lived and visited divided for the purposes of argument into “northern” and “southern” camps, then exploring the mentalities, prejudices, and associations of each.

North was conceived during a trip to Western Ireland in August 2002, at the tail end of the northernmost summer of my life–-three months split between Scandinavia, St. Petersburg, and the British Isles. Long stretches of coastline, at once beautiful and barren, sparked a desire to capture a simultaneous sense of lush tranquility combined with a stranger’s skeptical distance and unease. What sits beneath the north’s rugged, reticent, uninviting (at least to a southerner) exterior? A hidden pearl of warmth, or just empty ice? A guarded secret, or nothing at all?

This tension between a surface austerity and the core of beauty or ambivalence underneath is the subject of North. The piece’s fundamental materials are rigid in the extreme: an unwavering slow tempo from start to finish, regular repeated rhythms, a harmonic grid of six modes of six notes each that furnishes the work’s entire pitch content, from the registrally compartmentalized modes at the outset to the expansive senza vibrato string chords four minutes later. Though moment to moment the music is colorful, intricate, and inventive, its constrained palette ensures that large-scale events unfold at a decidedly slow pace bordering on aimlessness. Contradictory sensations of time are explored throughout, most simply on the local level by superimposing rapid fluttering gestures against sustained tones, but also in its overall trajectory; North could be considered a measured linear journey or a tautological recycling of a single idea, but refuses to answer the question decisively. The final two minutes of the piece deconstruct earlier moments; reminiscences drift by as unhitched percussive sounds intrude as the central pitch (E) asserts itself ever more forcefully, finally closing the piece on an inconclusive note: a sudden sparkling sound which becomes duller as it fades.

In addition to the Pynchon quote that appears at the head of the score, Seamus Heaney’s poem “North” also played a part in my work. Its three closing stanzas, the imagined advice of ‘ocean-deafened voices’ that the speaker hears along a northern coastline, provided a sort of mantra during a year spent in London that kept me motivated to

...‘Lie down
in the word-hoard, burrow
the coil and gleam
of your furrowed brain.
Compose in darkness.
Expect aurora borealis
in the long foray
but no cascade of light.
Keep your eye clear
as the bleb of the icicle,
trust the feel of what nubbed treasure
your hands have known.’

  1. Il nous semble important de faire une distinction entre le Réalisateur en Informatique Musicale (RIM) qui contribue à la confection de la partie électronique d’une œuvre et le Musicien en charge de l’Électronique Live (MEL) qui n’a pas nécessairement participé à l’élaboration de cette partie électronique mais qui doit s’assurer de sa mise à jour et de son bon fonctionnement lors d’une performance (lire à ce sujet Plessas et Boutard, 2015). 

  2. Par convention, l’harmonique 1 (fréquence f0) correspond à la fondamentale du spectre. Pour un spectre harmonique, la fréquence de chaque composante spectrale vérifie la relation suivante: fn = n x f0. 

  3. Grisey a commis une erreur au niveau du premier intervalle: l’écart entre la fondamentale (mi0) et le second harmonique (mi1) est une octave, soit 24 quarts de ton et non 22 comme il est indiqué. 

  4. CAUSSÉ, Réné, SLUCHIN, Benny, Sourdines des cuivres, Paris : Editions de la Maison des sciences de l'homme, 1991. 

  5. Yan Maresz, cité par Bruno Heuzé, dans HEUZÉ, Bruno, « Yan Maresz, Portrait », Résonance, Ircam/Centre Georges Pompidou, n° 14, septembre 1998, page 16. 

  6. SAARIAHO, Kaija, « Timbre et harmonie », dans Le timbre, métaphore pour la composition, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, éd., Paris, Ircam - Christian Bourgois, 1991, p. 412-453. 

  7. GRABOCZ, Martha, « La musique contemporaine finlandaise : conception gestuelle de la macrostucture / Saariaho et Lindberg », Cahiers du CIREM, Musique et geste, n ° 26-27, décembre 1992-mars 1993, p. 158. 

  8. BATTIER, Marc, NOUNO, Gilbert, « L'électronique dans l'opéra de Kaija Saariaho, L'Amour de loin », in Carlos AGON, Gérard ASSAYAG, Jean BRESSON, The OM Composer's Book, coll. Musique et sciences, Ircam, Centre Georges-Pompidou, 2006, p. 21-30.  

  9. Whittall, Arnold, Jonathan Harvey, Londres, Faber and Faber, 1999. Traduction française sous le même titre par Eric de Visscher, L’Harmattan, Ircam-Centre Georges Pompidou, 2000, p. 44. 

  10. Harvey, Jonathan, « Le Miroir de l’ambiguïté », Le Timbre, métaphore pour la composition, recueil de textes réunis par Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Paris, Ircam, Christian Bourgois, 1991, p. 454-466. 

Christopher Trapani.