Elan Vital (quartets: flute, clarinet, saxophone, piano)
by Paul Clift (2018)
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Library shelf no. 785.2614/CLI 1 [Available for loan]
Élan Vital: the "vital force" which, according to Henri Bergson, is the impetus for "spontaneous morphogenesis," a hypothetical mechanism by which "the transformation of a species proceeds in an immutable direction". In other words, Bergson suggested that all information regarding the future development of a species is present at the moment of speciation, and as such, that the changes that occur, while not always predictable, are inevitable, as if by intelligent design. The theory, since disregarded, briefly competed with Darwinian evolution in the early 20th century. By way of musical analogy, in this piece, I reflected on the notion that any musical entity, in addition to itself, contains an inherent impetus that has the potential to dictate its own subsequent development. On the basis of my starting material, I attempted to identify and apply such processes, some of which reach their conclusion while others are interrupted, as if the environment in which they are unfolding also undergoes transformation, and the conditions that support the predominance of one entity gradually come to favour that of another. While conceiving this piece, it occurred to me that devising evolutionary destinies for sonic entities and allowing them to compete with each other is a major part of my work as a composer.
Instrumentation: Flute, clarinet, saxophone, piano.
Duration: 11 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by Ensemble l'Imaginaire/SACEM
Performances of this work
27 May 18: Faubourg 12, Strasbourg, France
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