My writing process is very hands on and I played around with both instruments to find the sounds I wanted to use for this piece. A lot of the sounds are a result of very fast gestures with unusual bowing technique. In some spots I had to video myself and play it back in slow motion to see what I was doing. Once I saw what I was doing I notated the sound/gesture on staff paper and then taped that individual piece of staff paper to my wall. After some time my walls were decorated with various panels of notation. Many of the panels were made of self-similar sounds which made it easy to “stitch” together the various panels to create larger sections of the piece. The piece was written almost exclusively using this kind of collage or assemblage technique.

The title of the work, Violain, came about through a typo in the music engraving file name. Thank god because the piece was going to have the boring title, “Viola and Violin”. The typo-title is fitting because much of this music embraces a typo aesthetic. Since the music was written by hand musical typos were common and in many places I ended up letting the mistakes stay in the music because they sounded more interesting that what I had intended. By letting the typos be I feel I was also able to give the music an extra layer of joyful Wabi-sabi.

Violain was commissioned and first performed by andPlay.

This live performance by andPlay
Maya Bennardo, violin
Hannah Levinson, viola
February 15, 2018 Waverly Building, New York University
Video by Joel Rust