◾ GENESIS This composition was commissioned by and dedicated to ACG (Austin Classical Guitar, for which I was appointed Artist in Residence for the year 2022-23. I was asked to create a piece that largely reflects the theme of ACG’s 2022-23 artistic year, which was 'HOME.’ I also knew that this composition had to be written for five separate groups of guitarists. Each group could independently prepare their assigned portion of the larger whole, but, more importantly, they were to perform that section and treat it as a finished and stand-alone piece.
These two factors (’HOME’ and the five independent guitar groups) directed my inspiration towards the philosophy of go-dai, which I had used previously when composing the 'Go-Dai Concerto’ for guitar and orchestra in 2012.
The philosophy of Go-Dai is a Japanese concept of five elements known as godai, or the „five great”: air/wind (Japanese: 風, fū or kaze), fire (Japanese: 火, ka or hi), water (Japanese: 水, sui or mizu), earth (Japanese: 地, chi or tsuchi), and void/sky (Japanese: 空, kū or sora).
For me, „HOME” broadly refers to our planet as our shared home, regardless of where we live. Therefore, my initial intention was to reference weather conditions through the elements of the Go-Dai philosophy.
The first step in the composition process was to develop the main themes for each of the five Go-Dai elements. Each of these themes, along with their harmonization, development, and adaptation to specific guitar groups, was shaped by the character of each element. This way, the music not only conveyed the essence of each element but also visually and suggestively impacted the listener. The choice of expressive techniques, compositional solutions, and structural elements such as meter, harmony, rhythm, tempo, and structure were closely tied to each of the five elements during the composition process.
◾ FORM / ORCHESTRATION
Despite there being five independent compositions (elements), I strongly wanted to avoid a suite-like form with clear and distinct parts. My goal was to integrate all five elements while maintaining their individualism, much like in nature. During the creation of THE ELEMENTS, I was given the choice to write a solo part for the guitar. This inspired me to consider additional solo parts on various instruments. First, I chose the cello as an instrument that blended well with the guitar’s sound. The second addition was a solo part for a percussionist who was to handle over twenty percussion instruments, which I felt naturally relates to the fundamental elements of nature.
The piece begins with abstract, low, and primal sounds symbolizing darkness. Within the structure of the triple concerto, THE ELEMENTS features three main solo cadenzas: solo (timpani), duet (guitar and cello), and trio – fugue (guitar, cello, and marimba). The entire composition is interspersed with abstract moments that serve as links between the various elements. These abstract segments contrast with meticulously developed motifs for each of the elements.
The composition concludes with a bright, cheerful finale, symbolizing transformation: from emptiness and darkness to brightness, fullness, and hope.
Marek Pasieczny (Leeds, UK 13 Oct. 2023)