”Next To Beside Besides”

- a re-cycle



Apparently the movement from instrumentation dependant to hyper-idiomatic composition is parallel to the movement from ”abstract” to ”concrete” music. Somewhere in this movement composition and instrumentation melts together and it no longer makes sense to look at the music detached from the instrument it is played on. At the extreme point of this movement exists a music which uses material 100% dictated by the physics of the instrument and the musician and where the composition becomes a choreography for instrument and musician – with sound as a consequence... Here the relationship between action and resulting sound gets turned upside down: the movement is no longer a mean to realize a sound idea and therefore a ”product” of a sound composition, in contrary the sound is the product of a movement composition and the movement is no longer mean but objective in itself. The sounding part of the music is the sound of this movement, the sound of the work, the sound of a music composed within the logics and problems of the physical and the movements. (The music can for example be linear even though the sound of it isn’t!).

In this hyper-idiomatic, concrete end of the ”scale” appears something that looks like a paradox. The movement bites it’s own tale and the impossible words ”abstract” and ”concrete” get even more impossible: when the sound stands below the physical in the hierarchy (the contrary of the situation in the other end of the ”scale” where the physical must subordinate to the sound idea – ”what do I care about your fiddle when the spirit moves me...”, Beethoven should have said ), and here appears a new abstractness: the possibility for the movement particel!

When the actual composition takes place within the situations and the movements these can be notated abstractly and performed on another instrument (with the typical movements and parallel situations of this particular instrument), and it will be the same piece, even though it sounds completely different(!) – in the same way that ”Kunst der Fuge” is the same piece performed on an organ or by a string quartet – although realized through essentially different types of movements.

The hyper-idiomatic becomes an abstract idea – an X in the equation, which can be filled out with the unique situations of the one or the other instrument.

A re-cycle

The piece ”Beside Besides” (for solo cello with metal practice mute) is found at a considerable distance from this extreme point of the movement and still contains many abstract-musical ways of thinking. Still it is well suited, or it is maybe exactly therefore especially well suited to explore this ”paradox”. The re-cycle ”Next To Beside Besides” will be an open series of attempts to translate the piece ”Beside Besides” into different instruments and combinations of instruments.

”Beside Besides” is already in itself a subordinate piece, a spin-off: it’s a re-writing of the ending of the piece ”Besides” – and in this way this direction has already been touched as a theme. (And the actual piece ”Besides” has the non-existing plural of ”being next to” as its title because it operates with different musical and spatial ways of ”being next to”).

The many different degrees of abstractness and concreteness between pure sound and pure movement in ”Beside Besides” will result in translations that contain exactly equally sounding passages (where the music is conceived abstract or in sound) and very different sounding passages (where the music for example is based on gradual linear movements in different dimensions).

To experience these degrees of differences one has to hear the different versions next to each other. This could be one after another, or maybe even better: simultaneously!

The cycle will in other words not just be an open row of variations, versions or solutions of different problems and methods of translation – it will also give the opportunity to put together innumerable combinations of heterofonically sounding, but movement wise ”unison” ensemble compositions, where difference and equality comes into focus – where the translation situation itself becomes a musical parameter.

Every piece can be played alone or in any combination of versions, simultaneously or one after the other as movements or between other pieces as fragments.

Every piece must be equally faithful to the original which also means being equally idiomatic and faithful to the instrument in focus!


Simon Steen-Andersen, april 2005.