Contratactus in Stile Francese (2018)

for Baroque Trio Sonata with or without electronics
(Recorder, Violin, Viola da Gamba, Harpsichord)

A Baroque quartet from Avanti! Chamber Orchestra:
Eero Saunamäki, alto recorder
Jukka Rantamäki, violin
Jukka Rautasalo, violoncello
Jouko Laivuori, harpsichord
Friday, June 29, 2018
Sävellyspaja 2018, Sävellyskurssi Composition Masterclass
Pikkukirkko/Lilla kyrkan/The Little Church, Porvoo, Finland


Duration: ca. 7.5 minutes

Program notes


        As Jukka Tiensuu pointed out in his article, "THE FUTURE OF MUSIC," it would be quite impossible to capture the implications of musical artwork in descriptive words. Here I will briefly explain the major ideas and musical materials I dealt with while composing the piece, but note that these elements are intricately intertwined with other resources which are not described here: from the explored / emerged yet unexplored ideas from my previous pieces, to a bird-song which I heard while walking in dusk during a transient season between the winter and spring (the piece was finished in mid-April.)

        When I was asked to write a piece for a Baroque Trio (Sonata), the main idea came up instantly was the exquisite treatments of ornaments that were prevalent in Baroque music, especially the virtuosic playful game of lines; the crystallization of lines which only could be achieved by constantly teasing the time in music. Hudson's book, "Stolen Time: The History of Tempo Rubato" provided me a very detailed analysis on this fascinating topic, and some of the treatise really attracted my interests. These include “cascata”, “temps d'arrêt”, “anticipation and retardation”, and “fioritura.” All of these were techniques or skills with which Baroque musicians tantalized, charmed, and played with the time. I assembled these techniques, and normalized, modernized, personalized, and then deployed them in the piece.

        Harmony is always the soul of my piece. For this piece I created a new tuning system and musical framework in which the melo-harmonic scales and formal structure are not based on the integer ratios of wavelength (string length), but based on the diameter ratios of a string. In this domain the inharmonic factor created by each string is different from the “real world”, so the timbre created by these strings is very unique and dissonant, but still rich and fully radiant. This harmonic “field” is rigorously generated from acoustical formulae, therefore the title “in Stile Francese” was appended to commemorate the scintillating French musical style of late 20st century.

Contratactus in Stile Francese is written for Sävellyspaja 2018 to be premiered by the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra.