January 9 Salon preview: Ivan Arteaga, "16 Harvesters, Optimum Saturation"

"I’ll be presenting the first version of a piece entitled '16 Harvesters, Optimum Saturation' for Neijing Ensemble.

My goal for this Salon is to present a particular process I’ve been working with to create pieces over the last few years. Often, generating meaningful and exciting content to begin framing and structuring a piece of a music can be difficult. The way I’ve started approaching this is by improvising textures, ideas and structures with other players. I met with bassist Carmen Rothwell several times to explore a variety of extended technique gestures she uses. In our sessions we developed these ideas further and improvised together. This gave inspiration for mini-forms and improvisational areas—which was my main goal for these initial sessions. Eventually, there was enough material discovered to structure a larger form and score which resembles more of an extended piece of music.

This first form is usually the first and very rough draft of the piece. There are always many improvising sections still in the form and the players get to navigate these and be creative. It’s these next attempts at reading through the form which provides me with the content and ideas to structure the next version. There is so much room for improvising that inevitably the ensemble comes up with a goldmine of great musical ideas I would never have thought of—and is especially true when the musicians are experienced and talented improvisers. The goal for me as a composer in this context is to elevate what an improvising ensemble might create on their own by constantly creating more compositional structures which incorporate what is spontaneously created. The cycle of improvising > structuring > improvising > structuring yields unique results which I could never achieve on my own in a room with a score and a pencil. Improvising is such a deep and powerful art form and to marry it with composition in a way that elevates both simultaneously is the goal of my experimentations.

With that in mind, I hope that in listening to this first version of the piece, one can hear the glimmers of more developed composition starting to shine through the improvising, and the improvising to shine through the composition."

Ivan Arteaga


Hear Ivan's new work and works by Neil Welch, Cole Bratcher, and Matthew James Briggs at the January 9, 2015 Salon. This month's salon will be preceded by a New Music Holiday Party, starting at 6:30pm.