Aya Shimano-Bardai’s notes in the abstract for the piece “Coalescence”:
“Coalescence (2016) is a seven minutes and thirty seconds long acousmatic stereo piece. The compositional structure delves into the transitions between contrasted sonic spaces – open and clustered, distant and close, sharp and mild, etc – by underlining its varied acoustic elements. Mainly based on recordings of hands crunching, rubbing and decomposing charcoal pieces, this composition is a study of the organic quality of the sound material ‘spreading’ into smaller bits before they meld, pull apart and meet again. The gestural action is metaphorically transposed over a defragmentation of the sound material by means of exploring its diverse characteristics while unifying them into an abstract form.
The title refers to the process of the different sound particles colliding and merging throughout the piece. It is also a nod to the raw and organic material that precedes the composition which now exists independently of it.”
This piece, much like Antonio D’Amato’s piece reviewed on this site, unifies concept and execution by using the ideas of collision, merging, disintegration, and integration; taking recordings expressing those concepts; and subjecting them to electronic processes that perform the processes in the concept.
This piece is, while unified in concept, rife with interruption and disparity. The timbral variety is quite diverse. From the sounds of charcoal being rubbed together, we get sharp interruptions, fluid reversions of time, creaks, crackles, rich rubs, groans, droning wind-scapes, frenetic insect-like squirming, and shifts from the intense to the silent.
The fragmentation is not just timbrally rapid. The thematic and structural progression is widely fragmented. From the beginning, one gets rapid pixelations of time, overlapping rhythms, relaxed and intense patches of activity, seemingly random episodes, and an attachment to the unattached. In otherwords, the form of this piece is dedicated to formlessness on both the macro and micro levels, despite its conceptual and sonic unity.
What can we as composers learn from this?
Much like Aaron Mencher’s work, we can understand the lack of rhythm in this piece, but in this case the rhythms and scale of flow is increased in magnitude; the interruptions are sharper, the timbres more distinct, the fluidity not always present, the edges much more defined. It is as if Aya is taking the shape of a relatively “normal” piece and accentuating the high points and subduing further the low ones. This is yet another thing we as composers can learn from this: form can be extreme. From high points to low points, one can still create a piece that makes sense despite the great extremes in it. In other words, extremity can be an element that ties your work together.
The last main point of this analysis is that this work is mostly soft, which makes the fragmentation even more apparent. There are, for certain, many ways to create contrast with very active works, but Aya SB has informed us in this work that contrast is just as effective on the smaller amplitude scale.
I’m looking forward to keep analyzing works like these. Check out Aya SB’s website here, to see the other projects featured.
Keep your art-brain thinking and active!