for 4 singers and computer

2nd Prize Prix Ars Electronica 1989




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Imagine that you bought 2 records: one of European classical vocal music and the other of Afro-Cuban chanting with percussion. Imagine that you have 2 turntables and decide to play both records at the same time. Then, using the 'select' button of your home stereo you start switching from disc 1 to disc 2 at different intervals in a playful fashion. After the novelty has worn off, you get inevitably bored because this interaction although striking at first, conveys no sense of direction. Yet, bored as you are, you can't help noticing that occasionally, when you switch from one disc to the other something meaningful does happen. Imagine now that you could somehow separate the meaningful occurrences and combine them so that they make sense as a piece of music.

When we 'edit' together events from different contexts sometimes the result is not just the simple and irrelevant summing of the parts but something other than the parts. Son Entero is the exploration of this something other.

The piece is inspired by a book of poems ("El Son Entero") by the Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen. I combined words and phrases from different poems of the book and created a text to suit the rhythmic and dramatic needs of my piece. I took from Guillen his sense of repetition which is quite unlike the pacing of European poetry. In Latin-American Spanish the word 'son' has a variety of related meanings according to the context and country in which it is used. The words 'sound', 'song', 'tune', 'rhythm', 'story', 'line', 'chant', 'poem', etc, are only some of the different possible translations. Son Entero is used by Guillen in a social and political sense and could be translated into ' The Entire Story ' or more colloquially ' The Whole Works '

Many of the sounds played by the computer were taken (sampled) from instruments created by Hugh Davis. I am very grateful to Hugh for generously allowing me to use this sounds in my piece. I would also like to thank Peter Savage for lending me hardware essential for the production of Son Entero, and Kim Nygaard and Mariano Aranovich who helped me with the designing, formating and printing of the score.

Son Entero was commissioned by Elms Concerts for ' Singcircle ' with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain.