Analysis of Turkar Gasimzada’s “There were noises and tiny bluish – yellow lights”


by Anders Flodin

What follows is an analysis of There were noises and tiny bluish – yellow lights (2020) for prepared piano and midi keyboard/electronics by the Azerbaijani composer Turkar Gasimzada. This composition should not be mixed up with the composer’s previous composition with a similar title noises and tiny-bluish yellow lights (2014).

Introduction

Most people – who, for one reason or another write or talk about music, usually explain that words are not really enough to describe, analyse or at all comment on abstract sounds or silences. Often they usually switch to using just verbal and visual aids to seek to approach the elusive music – this text is no exception. Nevertheless, even if the word is menacing because it has a kind of “power”, the absence of words also has power. The word is one of man’s most important belongings and the way we use – or fail to use – them has consequences for our learning of various human skills, for our attitudes towards what surrounds us, and for our emergency situations, needs and experiences. In this context, however, it is important to emphasise that words are important where I see words and sentences created as a constant attempt to sublimate the language. I’m convinced we will never get to the core of the work, but we can deepen our listening with the help and support of words and sentences. In this analysis I will use an adaptation from the Aural Sonology Project and the method of analysis of sonic and structural aspects of music-as-heard.

Clear observation of the moment – the ear decides

The composition is divided into three clear sections which consist of a constellation of several sentence-fields in each section. The first section is well defined in which the piano tone A is established throughout the first section as a quasi harmonic series with the start on the fundamental while harmonic progressions, rapid broken figurations and processed electronic sounds as object-fields are interpolated above. The presentation of a key center may be generated from a unifying harmonic idea from which musical growth develops.

Later on a transition occurs and a chromatic cluster with minor seconds, frame B– D, and is repeated three times at a decreasing speed, ritardando. This gives a harmonic textural momentum and clarifies the ending phrase containing elements intrinsic to the main body of the sound itself. 

A few words about the processed electronic sounds separated from the composition as a whole are in order. The typology of form-building elements is very complex and very simple at the same time. They meet in a paradoxical, ambivalent union with a perceptually simple overall character. The contrast between (integral) whole and divided elements and the contrast between line and texture are sharpened when some of the sounding entities makes a rising volume, crescendo, which in this context becomes unexpected. Some sounds are sinusoidal sound objects while others are dystonic sound objects – sounds formed by a mixture of pitched elements and cluster of sounds.

The second section changes in content to become more tonally oriented with scattered harmonic intervals both in time and in interval tension with metrically free lines. The section contains chord structures and sometimes monotony develops from overuse of simple devices; yet despite the textural complexity the sonorities are clear and refreshing. No electronic sounds are present in the first part of the section until a voice reads an English text “There were noises and tiny bluish yellow lights…”. The piano flows out in emulated electronic sounds mostly in B as a reference. The idea of a cadential chord effect towards the third section is obvious.


A third section is presented immediately when the English text ends and a new central tone E is established. Rapid broken figurations and processed electronic sounds are interpolated above it and slightly later the section continues with a spoken voice “Whatever I looked at…”.  A chromatic cluster with minor seconds, frame B– D,  as in the first section – but just played once – and a lightly touched harmonic node on the bass string ends the composition.

A few more observations

Every section ends with an accumulation. With accumulation I mean a gradual superimposition of sounds: a sort of crescendo, not in intensity but in quality (more sounds = more colours) which sometimes stops and then starts again. Every section of the piece is well characterized, linked to all preceding and following sections. 

Alternating or discontinuous articulation creates relatively high complexity. Two or three foregrounds combined with one background gives a higher complexity than the opposite case i.e. one foreground with two or three backgrounds. The horizontal interrelations are balanced by the ratio in time.

As a listener I’m able to focus my attention on different aspects of a texture. By doing so, I bring some sonic elements into relief while relegating others to the periphery of attention. 

Concluding remarks

The method of analysis of this work demonstrates the remarkable connection between the prepared piano and midi keyboard/electronics accomplished by Turkar Gasimzade. Gasimzade’s composition reflects an array of aesthetic influences and an exploration of four distinct sound objects; piano, prepared piano, processed electronic sounds and a voice.

References

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6w5MF2h8jI [2021 09 13]

http://www.auralsonology.com/ [2021 09 13]

https://www.turkargasimzada.com/turkar [2021 09 21]

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