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This is my latest piece of music that I have written.

It is intended to be heard at the presentation of a book about the Catalan poet Joan Brossa.


https://soundcloud.com/ramon-capsada-blanch/brossa


On the SoundCloud page is the explanation that helps to appreciate some details of the work. To facilitate your reading, I copy this text below:



-------------------


Explanations about the work:

1. It was written to be heard at the presentation of the book "El paraigua de Joan Brossa" edited by "Papers de Versàlia" a group formed by poets from Sabadell (Barcelona). It is a book of poems made by about a hundred poets who write in Catalan and Spanish, as a tribute to Catalan poet Joan Brossa on the centenary of his birth on 2019.

2. It consists of two parts, designed to be heard separately. Between each part the reading of several poems is planned.

3. These two parts are musically symmetrical. The music of the second part has been written strictly following a horizontal symmetry of the different musical elements of the first part, retrograde them. This arrangement wants to emphasize the importance that geometry and symmetry have in the visual poems that Brossa wrote.

4. Some key concepts regarding the Brossa figure are: avant-garde, transgression, heterodoxy, multiple facets of art, sharpness, magic, play, criticism of power, honesty. He carried out various "musical actions", with the collaboration of the composer Josep M. Mestres Quadreny who composed the music and also of Carlos Santos who played the piano. All this has formed the background on which I have wanted to base my inspiration.

5. This is why the general approach of my musical piece has been to obtain a mixture, a heterogeneous blend of diverse ingredients, through the use of different musical genres; the work has a part of tonal music and another of music of a more atonal and serial nature. A mixture that wants to refer to this capacity for interrelation and the use of different facets of art by Brossa and also wants to refer to the romantic music that Brossa liked but also to the more transgressive and experimental aspect (very evident in his musical actions, previously mentioned), which would be represented by the most atonal part of the music.

6. Since the proposal was not to perform live music, but through the computer and since the computer makes all the instruments you want available to you, I wanted to make a symphonic instrumental approach. I have used: piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, timpani, xylophone, drum kit, and tambourine. The piano has outstanding appearances because it was the dominant instrument in Brossa's musical actions, played by Carlos Santos, as I mentioned before.

7. To reinforce the poetic character, I have also incorporated a short passage with the feminine human voice spoken, not sung (speech is genuinely poetic). It is as if she were the voice of Christa Leem, who was an actress and vedette, considered an icon of freedom in the 70s in Barcelona and muse of great artists, including Joan Brossa who created several shows for her. This passage is a short poem located at the beginning of the first part and at the end of the second, due to the symmetrical nature of the two parts. To preserve this symmetry, the poem is made up of verses that are palindromes, that is, with the same meaning whether reading backward or forward. In this way the spoken message has meaning when it is pronounced in the two directional senses of the two symmetrical musical parts (only the order of the verses changes).

8. I have also wanted to incorporate a small detail of "Musique concrète" (Mestres Quadreny collaborated with John Cage; Carlos Santos said that Joan Brossa was the catalan "John Cage"). It is a short passage that is located just when the first part ends (and at the beginning of the second). It is a sound that is perhaps a little difficult to identify, so I wish to explain that it is the noise that a seesaw makes when swinging. The seesaw is an object that appears frequently in the world of Brossa and in his poetry. When reading the poems in the middle of the two parts of the musical piece, this reading will be sandwiched between the two sounds of the seesaw. This fact can make us pretend that the poet's presence exists while the reading of the different poems inspired by his work lasts.

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It is brilliant music, nicely varied and excellently orchestrated. Always new things popping up keeping the attention high. The ending maybe a bit sudden.

Very well done.

/Kjell

Thank you very much for taking the time to listen to my piece. I also appreciate your kind comments.

I certainly agree with you that the end may seem a bit sudden. But this end is imposed by the symmetrical structure of the second part with respect to the first. Then the piece has to end as it begins but in reverse (the spoken words and the trumpet blast). An end from more to less ...

Greetings.

Ramon.

Thank you for you descriptions as to the basis for this music. I listened with interest. I was not disappointed. I can hear the symmetry here although this is a construct I am unfamiliar with which further leads me to a  more personal mysterious interpretation. Not a bad thing!

As they would say here in the US. Not my cuppa....but I enjoyed it :)

It's me who have to thank you for listening to my piece and for making your kind comment.


I love that you enjoyed it, even though it is not really one of your "favorite" music.


In Spanish we could use the expression "no es santo de mi devoción"

This is a very impressive extended piece Ramon. You have elaborate structures and a thoroughly modern sound that still holds my attention and I enjoyed it. Good work!

I can’t understand why I didn’t comment earlier – most likely because although I listened to the work I was interrupted while reading through your introductory notes which are most comprehensive and give us a good sense of Brossa and his approaches, if ‘approach’ is an adequate word. (I find Mallarmé runs in parallel in his later works, a revolutionary in his own way whose ideas crept insidiously into many arts today. I doubt I'd be writing music but for his 'Un Coup de Dès'.)

 

While I recognised the name, Brossa, I never encountered his work, remembering it only because of a brush with a Portuguese poet, more of a Romantic (capital R) through various links to a Brazilian composer whom I came to adulate – Villa-Lobos, who helped rescue me from the ravages of a musical education determined to stamp ‘serial’ all over me. It failed. Villa-Lobos took me to the realm of European Spanish / Catalonian / Portuguese poets. I wrote a short piece on my impression of said poet without trying to set the words to music but that's another story.

So having read your introduction, your work seems to fulfil its aim. It’s a wonderful piece, exuberant, celebratory for the most part and with a truly accomplished piano part – difficult and perhaps reflecting the virtuosity of Carlos Santos. The scoring is brilliant, adapted to the instruments you’ve chosen and so well balanced. If you had presented it as a live erformance I wouldn't have suspected otherwise (even allowing for the brief concrète passage in the middle).

I have been called a ‘postmodernist’ (which initially I took as an insult. The word always makes my ‘bull-o-meter’ light up RED!) But I begin to see what it implies: taking from any compositional style, adapting, blending together to achieve the aim. And I believe you to be in this realm with this piece. At least, that’s my impression. You came up with a technical agenda (the reversal in part two, etc., notable because of the brief opening and closing fanfare and the spoken phrase repeated) but the music is never beyond doubt. During the reversal you retained the musicality of the elements entirely. 

It was an interesting half hour listening to this reversal, checking phrases at the beginning and the end. In the absence of a score it’s impossible for me to know if the reversal is exact but it certainly sounds it.

 

Altogether a beautiful and engaging work. A difficult but delicate piano part.

Most enjoyable to listen to.

All good wishes,,

Dane

Hello Ingo,

Thank you very much for listening to my piece, also considering that it is quite long. . .

Thank you also for your positive feedback.

I have tried to reflect the savoir faire of the poet Joan Brossa using my musical tools: a modern form with eclectic style. In the tonal parts I have followed the diatonic scale of the Lydian mode, for that of the topic of bright and cheerful that is attributed to this mode. In the atonal parts, I have extended the initial theme to a twelve-tone series, building different serial variations, but taking care of the harmony so that the vertical polyphonies were not excessively dissonant.

Saludos,

Ramon



Ingo Lee said:

This is a very impressive extended piece Ramon. You have elaborate structures and a thoroughly modern sound that still holds my attention and I enjoyed it. Good work!

Hello Dane,

 

First thank you for your careful and complete listening that you have made of my piece.

It has been very pleasant to read your comments both for its interesting content and because you speak very highly of my work, perhaps too much  ; -)

Mallarmé was the initiator of a renewal of poetry with an influence that can still be seen today. At the end of the 19th century, he brought poetry into modernity. However, Joan Brossa belongs to another artistic-historical moment: the breakthrough avant-garde of the second half of the 20th century (If you are curious about Joan Brossa's work, there is various information in English about him, for example: http://fundaciojoanbrossa.cat/standard.php?idmenu=3  ).

Heitor Villa-Lobos deserves a special mention. Very prolific and highly influenced by Brazilian popular music, he stayed out of the new European atonal trends, achieving a very personal and complete music that goes beyond the label of "Brazilian impressionism" that has sometimes been given to it. I agree with you regarding the excellence of the  Quinteto en forma de Choros.

Regarding the comments you have made about my piece, about the difficulty of interpreting the piano part (and perhaps also the other parts), I must admit that one of my biggest limitations is not having a technical knowledge of many of the instruments. I do not come from the instrumental field and although I inform myself theoretically about them there is always the question whether the composite music would be really playable (the computer plays everything!).

I have no doubts that I should not give up any type of music from the past and I am certainly opting for a musical eclecticism, without falling, of course, into simplistic nostalgia, or incomprehensible experimentalisms, or irreconcilable confrontations. It is also true that the characteristics of J. Brosa matched very well in a proposal with a variety of styles.

The reverse part is certainly very symmetrical. I have been totally strict with pitch heights with exact retrograde. The difficulty has been in achieving height variations in the first part that will work well once invested in the second part. The other musical elements (duration and dynamics) have some modifications.

 Thanks again for your kind comments and for dedicating your time to my music.

Saludos,

Ramon

This gets more interesting as it goes on. The link you offer is in Spanish (which I don't speak although my knowledge of the Romance languages helps here and there) but there are plenty of other sources on this poet.

I was immediately struck by the opening of one of his works:

These lines, like
sheet music, are no more
than a collection of signs to
decipher. The reader of the poem
is a performer.

Which is about semiotics and not dissimilar to Mallarmé as he approached "Le Livre".

There's time to explore a little further.

Of glancing interest, Luciano Berio's Omaggio a Joyce attempted to show the continuum between music through poetry to plain speech, based on fragments of Joyce's Ulysses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV_76OZSsqo

.

Hi Ramon,

in my opinion it is really classy music. I especially liked the creaking chair at the end of part one :) You seem to have quite heterogeneous parts here but blend them together nicely. I must agree with Kjell that the end is a bit of a surprise.

Greetings,

Jan

Dane, 

To see the web page that I indicated you need to choose the language in its upper right, where there are three options (Catalan, English, Spanish) since, by default, the web page is loaded in Catalan.

http://fundaciojoanbrossa.cat/standard.php?idmenu=3


Certainly, there are interesting musical works closely related to poetry and literature. The Joyce / Berio example that you have proposed is very good. An advanced electroacoustic composition, but really beautiful.


But in this chapter (music and literature) I cannot fail to cite one of the examples that interests me most and that, moreover, fits very well into our dialogue: a Catalan composer, Benet Casablancas, making music based on the most important writer in English language, W. Shakespeare. A much more "classic" proposal than Berio's, but with a very novel style:

https://open.spotify.com/album/1qpQwBAyvKD0A3Xa4akVdR?si=9Nb7L6PKRm...



Dane Aubrun said:

This gets more interesting as it goes on. The link you offer is in Spanish (which I don't speak although my knowledge of the Romance languages helps here and there) but there are plenty of other sources on this poet.

I was immediately struck by the opening of one of his works:

These lines, like
sheet music, are no more
than a collection of signs to
decipher. The reader of the poem
is a performer.

Which is about semiotics and not dissimilar to Mallarmé as he approached "Le Livre".

There's time to explore a little further.

Of glancing interest, Luciano Berio's Omaggio a Joyce attempted to show the continuum between music through poetry to plain speech, based on fragments of Joyce's Ulysses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV_76OZSsqo

.

Hi Jan,

Yes, the heterogeneity of the parts of the piece has been one of my objectives, however what matters is that these parts fit together well (I hope that is so...)

It is also true that the ending is a bit surprising. However there are two reasons for having done so: the mandatory symmetry of the second part with respect to the first and, also, surprise has also been one of my goals in this composition.

And of course, thank you very much for listening and commenting.

Saludos,

Ramon



Jan-Frederik Carl said:

Hi Ramon,

in my opinion it is really classy music. I especially liked the creaking chair at the end of part one :) You seem to have quite heterogeneous parts here but blend them together nicely. I must agree with Kjell that the end is a bit of a surprise.

Greetings,

Jan

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