Title: Pose II: On the Shadows of Ideas
Performer: Julia Den Boer - Piano
Instrumentation: Piano and Live-Electronics
Premier: October 12, 2013 - Matrix Festival, EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO des SWR, Freiburg, Germany
Program Notes:

This second work within the Pose series deals with the relationship between music and memory. I intended to explore how the hierarchical structure of music influences our ability to perceive, understand, and recall music. Some theorists state that the repetitive, and nested structures of music contribute to the mental organization of musical sounds. Certain musical organizations lead to memory reinforcement, while others lead to memory sabotage. Further, in the middle ages and renaissance, before the commonality of the printed word, the art of memory represented an important skill for rhetoric, philosophy and mysticism. This skill required the memorizer to visualize each ‘object’ to be memorized, place it within a specific location of a theatre or hall, and then make it memorable by linking a striking emotional context to the object. To sequentially recall these objects, the memorizer simply had to ‘walk’ through this visual theatre, and observe the objects in order. I believe this process sounds extremely similar to music composition. For what do we do as composers but take musical objects, place them within a location in space, and give it some emotional context? Therefore, music’s communicability may rest on its ability to engender memorable acoustic objects within the mind of the listener. Thus, this work models the process of one attempting to memorize a list of objects. As repetition, contextualization, visualization are all techniques one uses to memorize, I attempt to present musical objects in the same manner.

The title of the work comes from a text by Giordano Bruno, De Umbris Idearum (The Shadow of Ideas) – a treatise that presented a system of memorization through mnemonic, psychological and hermetic magic. My deepest gratitude goes to everybody at the SWR EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO for the commission and assistance in the completion of this work. Further, I am grateful for the technical guidance received from Gary Berger and Simon Spillner for this piece.

"We ought, then, to set up images of a kind that can adhere longest in memory. And we shall do so if we establish similitudes as striking as possible; if we set up images that are not many or vague but active (imagines agentes); if we assign to them exceptional beauty or singular ugliness; if we ornament some of them, as with crowns or purple cloaks, so that the similitude may be more distinct to us; or if we somehow disfigure them, as by introducing one stained with blood or soiled with mud or smeared with red paint, so that its form is more striking, or by assigning certain comic effects to our images, for that, too, will ensure our remembering them more readily."
- Ad Herennium, Cicero
Pose II: On the Shadows of Ideas