piano and percussion

Premiere: November 15, 2005, Kontakte!, Salle Redpath — Université McGill, Montréal (Québec)

I conceived this piece while thinking about translation, and how it might apply to music. In particular I was interested in the curious rhythm of speech created in a “live” or simultaneous translation, and the atmosphere of a lecture hall in which a “whisper translation” is taking place in a corner. Hesitation, compromise and error are common to translation — it was likened by Cervantes to viewing the opposite side of a tapestry, with all its hanging threads and indistinct forms. But it has creative potential also, as seen in the poetry of Charles Berstein, or of Steve McCaffery and bp nichol.

Three metaphors for the interaction between the players are wrapped into the title: they translate each other, transfuse material to one another, and fuse together into a single entity. The two instruments are related and yet distant enough to interact with each other in ways that represent these ideas. The instrumentation for the percussionist is meant to emphasize the gap between pitched and non-pitched sounds, such that the two players meet each other at the extreme upper and lower registers.

Geof Holbrook