As a composer, I am exploring weaving patterns in order to transform them into musical language. The use of non-musical data does not guarantee the successful transformation and mostly requires deeper studies and research so that the chosen weaving pattern can be matched with sounding material. For me the Composers’ Kitchen was a great laboratory in which to nurture my initial idea, slowly transforming it into the final composition through the various stages of this project; but let me start from the beginning.
It all started in Montréal, Canada with a meeting of the performers, Quatuor Bozzini, mentors Christopher Fox (UK) and Christopher Butterfield (Canada), and fellow composers Georgia Rodgers (UK), James O’Callaghan (Canada) and Kyle Brenders (Canada). An intense two-week period involved rehearsals every day, revisions of pieces, listening sessions, discussions, and individual meetings with the mentors. It was a great opportunity to crystallize ideas in order to achieve the result that each of was looking for.
For me it was a long journey, because the first sketches I made did not resemble either the primary idea nor the weave; they were too reliant on narration and illustration. But in Montréal I was able to write this piece in “real time”, every day producing new sketches, which were then rehearsed in various tempos, trying out different techniques, working on dynamics and details, discussing the sounds that resulted from each sketch. Each rehearsal was recorded so that at the end of the day it was possible to listen again and to create something ‘new’.
I felt that it was a luxury to work on one particular composition and to have so many possibilities to try things, working out what could best suit my idea. After three different versions and intense conversations with musicians and mentors, I finally found the right tools and solution. I must admit that this period of searching was challenging, but the support from the members of Quatuor Bozzini and mentors made me realise that with the best team on your side it is possible to discover your true artistic individuality and perfect your vision.
After each rehearsal of our own pieces, we could listen and gain experience from colleagues’ compositions, and how their ideas are developed, what kind of sound or timbre they are looking for. At the end of this first stage each of us had created individual compositions, all very different stylistically and aesthetically, and these were all performed in a concert in a loft space in Montréal.
For the second stage we moved to Banchory, a small town in Scotland. This was probably a more relaxed experience for me. I had had a five-month break from the piece, an ideal time to leave it for a while, and after a discussion with Christopher Fox I was able to make final revisions and complete the composition with fresh ears. This time, I knew in advance what my piece was all about. Megh Malhar is based on the organza weave, a weave whose structure is invisible because of its thin silk threads. It is striking for its sheer surface and transparency, a feature which I felt united it with the harmony of the Indian raga. During the second stage, I experimented with the final form of the music, refining the specific character of the piece. It was a special time for me, cooking each day, meeting after rehearsals and concert for dinner in one of the cottages where we stayed, walking in the forest, visiting Aberdeen, sight-seeing, having informal conversations, being part of this family.
For me the Composers’ Kitchen was a great opportunity to concentrate on one particular piece. I think that without this possibility, and especially such a close connection with the professional performers of Quatuor Bozzini, mentors and composers, I could not have created the piece which emerged as the final result. I believe that this is a great opportunity for any composer who wants to become the best chef in their musical kitchen.