Alae

The name Alae means ”wings” in Latin. This piece is the sounding part of my bachelor thesis where I investigated the use of my inner hearing in the process of composing. Inner hearing is defined as the experience of being able to hear music even though it is not sounding in the physical room. In the composition process this inner hearing becomes a very important tool to hear the music that you want to create.

   The vision I have for my music is to challenge the listener to discover and appreciate new musical worlds by using easy-to-listen and familiar elements in combination with what can be perceived as new and unknown. In Alae this is presented in several different ways. The piece is largely based on chord progressions taken from the popular musical tradition and it has several melodic themes which reoccur in different shapes. One of the first important themes to be heard is first introduced in flutes. This theme is often played in duo where the second instrument plays the melody shortly after the first one, creating a melodic “shadow”. This creates a dissonance between the instruments, this dissonance is then dissolved. The theme is found throughout the piece, usually in flute but on occasion in other woodwind instruments and in strings. Since I have a background of playing in metal bands, that genre is an obvious source of inspiration and this is apparent in Alae. Most clearly it is heard in the lower strings riff-like and driving figures that reoccur in the piece, but also in how the percussion has a substantial role with its driving force. Another important theme, a sixteenth-notes character that is mainly played in strings, is yet another example of my inspiration from the guitar riffs of metal music. In some parts, this theme is also picked up by woodwinds and therefore given a new timbre. Alae has several elements of contemporary music and one clear example is the theme that is built on twelve-tone technique, which is a typical contemporary compositional technique. At the first meeting with this compositional technique it can be perceived by many as difficult to listen to because the melodies that are created often lack clarity in their melodic lines. Therefore, I have chosen to allow this melody to be accompanied by chords from popular music tradition which creates a solid foundation and gives a familiar harmonic context to the otherwise “difficult” melody. This theme continuously shifts in timbre as it wanders through the orchestra.

   I often associate the music I create to something that is not music, such as emotions or a visual image that either exists in reality or as an imagination. When composing Alae, my inspiration was to create the sense of drive and force, of an inherent strength, standing in contrast to that which is thin and sheer, like different characteristics of wings.

Alae was premiered in 2018 by Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

© Ia Erlandsson 2020.

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