taylan susam, composer.

music for _

i want to say a few words about how i name my pieces, and why so.

music that is based on text, or accompanied by spoken word, has the power to reveal something about the text. it may reveal, in part, some of the musical promise of the text. as samuel vriezen’s motet reveals something about the musical (in this case contrapuntal) qualities of bits of random prose. and as dante boon’s uitdrijving reveals something about the melodic tension in the phrase lengths in hans faverey’s poem of the same title.

for such a revelation to occur, the cards must be on the table: the preparation takes place in the title of the piece, which must dispose the mind to the textual reference of what is about to sound. in such cases, it is quite natural give a piece of music a name. but what of all that music that is not based on text? my guess is that, similarly, in such cases, music can reveal something about a concept. for example, my hope is that my piece nocturnes will be a place for an unforeseeable experience, being moved somehow, and my guess is that this being moved will be related to the sphere of the “nocturnal”—that which, with all its dim contours, makes up the nocturne.

(now this cannot be the whole story about what titles do. for, what to say about a marvellous example like christian wolff’s i am a dangerous woman?)

in my music, titles function either along the lines of the above, or are dedications. in fact, nocturnes is my only title so far that is not a dedication. in my little text about the audience i distance myself from the idea of an anonymous “humanity” (whatever that is) as the addressee of my pieces. in that light, it is perhaps easier to understand why my pieces bear such titles as for joseph kudirka or for blinky palermo. i wrote those pieces for a person. when that much is established (and it is, i think, a lot), who cares about the title, about the particular name?

the piece for joseph kudirka is dedicated to joe because i like him a lot as a person and i believe some of the techniques i used were derived from his music.

the piece for blinky palermo is dedicated to him because i like his work and i think the piece has something to do with it. i believe that connecting two works that deal with similar things can make those things more meaningful.

the piece for louis couperin was thus titled because it was an attempt to revive a tradition of keyboard notation that way invented by him. at the same time it was an affirmation of our shared outlooks.

the piece for antoine beuger is dedicated to antoine for many reasons, including, in some sense, all of the above. but mostly because i wrote it for us to play together.

to bear a title. the sounding mass of the piece bears the weight of words, which leave an imprint. the trick is to have an imprint, a trough, through which the music may flow more gracefully.