Saturday, January 23, 2010

Two and a Half Questions with Deru

Genus is a serious conceptual work. What was it like working within the set parameters, trying to interpret a central theme of science into music, that will in turn be interpreted by dance?

It was great really. One of the most successful collaborations I've been a part of.

I should back up though and give some background on the piece I realize. Genus is about Charles Darwin and evolution. So that was our first (and possibly main) inspiration. Wayne McGreggor, the choreographer, gave us some other clues as well. He knew that he wanted it in three main sections. The first should be primordial and hard, the second a duet with two dancers, and the third a large finale with many dancers. He told us what he wanted with the lighting for reference, when there would be video (at one point all of the dancers leave and it's just video - an amazing moment), and some emotional cues. And he knew that it was going to be 45 minutes. We started working from there. We made a map of dynamics and instrumentation showing how long each section should be. We divided those 3 sections into 3 more. The 45 minute piece was then in smaller 3-5 minute chunks. I'd never worked that way and it was great. You can refer to the chart whenever you're lost and know what needs to be done.

We also we wanted to give the composition an evolution of its own. We started with static, then little snippets of sound break out from it. You then realize it's voice, and after the voice takes over it becomes chords. Then the static comes back in the form of rhythm. Then this whole first section concludes with a large dysfunctional sort of climax where everything falls apart. This is the first entrance of the violin, which later becomes a quartet. The third section sees choir and strings, then eventually electronics, and so on... Joby also found lyrics from one of Charles Darwin's secret (at the time) notebooks. These are the phrases that the choir sings.

Read entire interview on Headphone Commute

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