Mīmēsis (μίμησις) : for Viola and Virtual Nagoya Harp, no. 469 (2021)
by Andrián Pertout (2021)
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Score & Part
Library shelf no. 787.3/PER 2 [Available for loan]
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the
Ancient Greek term mīmēsis, derived from
mīmeisthai (μιμεῖσθαι, 'to imitate') is a
"basic theoretical principle in the creation of art" and may be
defined as "'imitation' (though in the sense of 're-presentation'
rather than of 'copying')." Greek philosopher and polymath
Aristotle (384-322 BCE) regarded mīmēsis as
the imitation of nature, with its enactment of perfection
achieved via a consideration of the four causes in nature
(material, formal, efficient or agent, and final or purpose) in
tandem with the aesthetic quality of beauty, framed by the
mathematical sciences around "order and symmetry and
definiteness." In Aristotelian "'Mimesis' in
Eighteenth Century England" (1921) English-born American
scientist, philosopher, physician, chemist, historian and
photographer John William Draper adds that mīmēsis from an Aristotelian perspective encompasses
the notion of "creating according to a true idea" and that when
it is said that 'art imitates nature', nature in this instance
may be assumed to be the "creative force of the universe." Draper
then elaborates on the definition by underlining Aristotle's
declaration that "music is the most imitative of all the arts: it
is the most fluid; and its flux is governed most completely by
the laws of unity, proportion, and symmetry." In the "Dictionary
of the History of Ideas: Studies of Selected Pivotal
Ideas" (1974) Polish philosopher, historian
of philosophy, historian of art, aesthetician, and ethicist
Władysław Tatarkiewicz states that Aristotle, "maintained that
artistic imitation may present things either more or less
beautiful than they are; it also may present them such as they
could or ought to be; it can and ought to limit itself to their
characteristics which are general, typical, and essential,"
adding that "Aristotle preserved the thesis that art imitates
reality but imitation meant to him not faithful copying but a
free and easy approach to reality; the artist who imitates can
present reality in his own way."
The work adopts a unique interpretation of the concept of mimesis via the juxtaposition of 'organic,' or intuitively-driven invention with algorithmic composition based on 'probabilistic automata'. The melodic elements of the viola part exclusive to the former, while the materials for the secondary tape element - represented by the Virtual Nagoya Harp, or Taishāgoto (a rectangular-shaped wooden zither invented in 1912 in Nagoya, Japan by Nisaburo Kawaguchi 'Gorā Morita' featuring the mechanics of a typewriter with a traditional koto or autoharp) - entirely generated by a set of algorithms that 'imitate' the primary source via Markov-chain-derived modelling, or algorithmic mapping of the melody that take into account every set of transitions between the states. The rhythm adopts the combinatorial strategy of 'Single-State Probabilistic Automatons,' or "unrestricted compositions of the integer n into m parts." The viola on the other hand incorporates a rhythmic structure based on the exploration of the mathematical concept of 'partitions' or 'all partitions of n with m parts in the set', subdividing all 20-second intervals of the work into a varied number of parts and sizes that symmetrically expand and contract in rhythmic density (essentially metric modulations with the ratios 1:1, 3:2, 2:1, 3:1, 2:1 and 3:2) over an arch-form structure.
Instrumentation: In performance, the audio visual material should be played back utilizing a media player such as Windows Media Player. Hardware Requirements: PC Laptop (Intel® Core™ i7-4770 CPU @ 3.40GHz or higher Pentium-compatible CPU, 16.00 GB of RAM). Software Requirements: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 32/64-Bit, Service Pack 1. The MP4 digital video file (essentially a visual click track incorporating the tape component of the work) consists of 2000 milliseconds, or 2 seconds of digital black followed by a 10-second countdown. From there on each second (of the complete duration of the work: 8’12”) is allocated with a unique marker (an enlarged display accentuating all 5-second intervals).
Duration: 9 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional
Commission note: Commissioned by Henry Justo, The ANAM Set, Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) with funds provided by Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund.
First performance: 14 May 22. North Magdalen Laundry, Abbotsford Convent, The ANAM Set Festival, Abbotsford, Melbourne, Australia
Performances of this work
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