Recording Maya G L Verlaak: Another Timbre
As musicians we listen all the time, on a minute scale, to our own playing, to the collective complete picture and to each element that builds up the many strands in a piece. Recording Maya Verlaak's Song & Dance for 9 musicians with contemporary ensemble Apartment House was a thoroughly hypnotic experience.
Song & Dance is subtitled 'An excessively elaborate effort to explain or justify'. Mostly, the score was a set of instructions or 'rules' with no musical notation, pitches or note-lengths were chosen from a grid. We recorded 'Song & Dance' as an ensemble of 9 players, consisting of a distinct piano part (working in a separate time frame), 2 percussionists and six other players who moved between the ensemble and soloist grids of pitches and rhythms.
In the ensemble group, you start with a pitch from the grid and can move along the grid once you hear someone playing your pitch. As the soloist, the opposite method was employed and you wait to hear your pitch from another player before entering the grid.
Once we had rehearsed and worked with Maya on her instructions, what ensued was a piece in which you had to immerse yourself fully to take into account the instructions, the sounds you were hearing, those you were waiting for, the audible overtones and the internal inner ear overtones. It was mesmerising.