I recently chose these words as a starting point for a lecture about my music, thereby spontaneously paraphrasing the comment a colleague, a composer and performer, had made in his preceding lecture: ‘I’m not a pitch guy.’
In a nutshell, these contrary statements seemed to me to represent two of the most fundamental threads within the current avant-garde:
One can either focus on the extension of pitch sets, and on the reexamination of the parameters pitch, interval, tuning and tonality (let us, by all means, dare to use this term); or, alternatively, one can neglect the parameter pitch (or more abstractly put: any harmonic sonic events) in favor of extending the scope of any sonic objects, parameters, categories, etc capable of assuming a musical shape, thus supplementing and/or substituting immanent musical contextualization with extra-musical, i.e. emmanent correlations.
Reciprocal interactions between these two concepts, however, are not only possible but, in fact, necessary.
Matthias S. Krüger
Encouraged for instance by Klaus Huber´s move towards extended, refined pitch relations and his decades` worth of compositional research, by the great tradition of French Spectral Music centered around Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail (whose roots also lie with Giacinto Scelsi), as well as by influences from more recent tone-systematic reflections and compositional realizations – e.g., Georg Friedrich Haas´s overtone harmonies, Wolfgang von Schweinitz´s intonation studies concerning Just Intonation, Manfred Stahnke´s microtonal experiments, Erik Oña´s psychoacoustic and electro-acoustic research – for the past fifteen years I have been striving for an extended and modified perception of the term “interval”, for harmonic and melodic immediacy. ‘I´m a pitch guy!’
Aspects integral to the genesis of my musical language include the properties of the overtone series as the backbone of harmonic sound, overtone unisono (i.e. the intonation of overtones, nearly without harmonic beatings, thereby disposing of the impression of single pitches), the composition of intrinsic tensions between partials in a both vertical and horizontal manner, but also modulation, the stylization of elements such as beatings, vibrations, harshness, and inharmonicity, which ultimately leads to the element of formal surprise.
On a structural level, I favor intrinsic connections between all musical parameters (potentially culminating in a comprehensive, quasi-fractal recursivity of all elements involved) over a conventional dissociation of parameters; never, though, without applying a certain degree of inconsequence which makes things lively, lifelike.
From my point of view, an elementary formed musical language, capable of transcending a merely structurally and conceptually convincing configuration, holds great promise for the future – a language, in which aside from factors including fragility, saturation, diversity, intermediateness, etc, aspects such as transparency, rigor and psycho-acoustic decodability are not only allowed for but instead inscribed as essential conditions.