Pratītyasamutpāda (“contingent-arising”)

I’m excited to share my newest piece: Pratītyasamutpāda (“contingent-arising”), for string quartet and gamelan. If you can, please listen on headphones or nice speakers.

 

Pratītyasamutpāda is a Sanskrit term for a Buddhist concept. Translated as “dependent-origination” or “contingent-arising,” it refers to two (or more) entities that bring each other into existence, by virtue of their relationship, which comes before the things related. Ready examples include the student and the teacher, the species in an ecosystem, the ideologies of major political parties, or the personalities and mannerisms of life partners. In each case, A does not cause B, and B does not cause A. Instead, A and B arise together, in a continuously unfolding process, reflecting one another like a photo and its negative, their essences enveloped within the heart of the other.

In this piece, the string quartet and the gamelan stand in this bi-polar relationship to each other. In the space opened between these two poles, pluralistic collections of sounds gradually come into being, grow to fruition, and then recede over time, sonic crest leading to trough following a logic both naturalistic and dream-like. Individual sounds will likely not be the listener’s focus. In fact (with a few exceptions) rhythms are not determined, and performers, following timers, have some flexibility and freedom in when (and what) they play. The system is the material, and the process is the event. So don’t try to catch each drop, just enjoy the rain.

This piece is dedicated to my partner, Kathleen.

Performed by the Lightbulb Ensemble and the JACK Quartet.

Recorded at REDCAT in Los Angeles, January 15, 2017.

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