uncompromisingness with which dogma is held, solo microtonal oboe
First performance: 27 . 11 . 2015 by Christopher Redgate at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, Oxford, UK.
The Greek philosopher Parmenides wrote of a journey he undertook to the court of a goddess. In the tale, he was welcomed weary from his divine travels, and having taken his right hand, the goddess told him ‘Meet it is that thou shouldst learn all things, as well the unshaken heart of persuasive truth, as the opinions of mortals in which is no true belief at all.’ A special knowledge was imparted to Parmenides, and through it came an understanding of truth. He was told of:
‘The first, namely, that It is, and that it is impossible for anything not to be, is the way of conviction, for truth is its companion. The other, namely, that It is not, and that something must needs not be, - that, I tell thee, is a wholly untrustworthy path. For you cannot know what is not - that is impossible - nor utter it;
For it is the same thing that can be thought and that can be.’
Now our understanding of the world is different to that of Parmenides, but the key issues are still pertinent. Many things can be read from the various statements, the mortal world is deceptive, That that exists exists, That that does not does not; what is left is a situation in which perception cannot be anticipated. We are the subject of our surroundings. And this work variously acknowledges different kinds of surroundings: historical, real, cultural, recent, impossible, actual, imaginary. Framed by the self, surroundings have a possibility and an opportunity to be vivid – deep and bright. In this way the frame of experience serves as a force that subtly compels modes of interface, gilding interpretive strategies so that material comes alive.
Words will only do so much, and perhaps music even less, but the frame will do the rest. It will define an order, dissolve the construct, and order the fragments. And there is ample opportunity for it; uncompromisingness with which dogma is held is itself a frame, and in that frame there are many others – discreet, but equally, vivid. It will variously acknowledge my frame(s), whether those can be calculated or not.
This work is dedicated with admiration to my friend, George E. Lewis, whose insightful conversation led me to stumble upon much of the basis of this work, and is written for Christopher Redgate. My thanks for his encouragement, fearlessness, patience, and unending good cheer.
‘To me it does not matter
whence I will begin: in fact there I will return again.’