One of the basic musical ideas for Vers le blanc (Towards White) is a chord changing into another chord so slowly, that the pitch changes are not audible as such; The piece is built of six glissandi — as long as the piece — which, by gliding to different directions in different speeds, produce all the time changing harmonic structures.
The other musical parameters follow same kinds of slow processes; extremely exact rhythmic processes are created by controlling with algorithms the enveloppe of amplitude. The timbral transformations are created by, e.g., controlling the central frequencies for the formant regions with functions of time.
Generally speaking the piece is a study about slow motion in musical language. Instead of dramatic changes or musical activity I am in this piece looking for slight timbral changes and (synthetic?) life behind my frozen chord.
The piece was realized at Ircam, Paris, with CHANT program during the spring 1982 with the technical assistance of Jean-Baptiste Barrière and is dedicated for him.
For the performance:
- The four loudspeakers should be placed around the audience (two in front, two behind), not too close.
- Before starting the piece the room should be darkened completely (as much as possible).
- The piece should be played with as high volume as possible.
© Kaija Saariaho, ca. 1983
Kaija Saariaho a réalisé Vers le blanc avec le programme Chant à l'issue d'un stage de six semaines à l'Ircam, au début de 1982. L’idée de départ était de travailler sur une transformation tellement lente qu'elle en deviendrait imperceptible. Pendant les quinze minutes que dure la pièce, un accord de trois sons se transforme graduellement en un autre accord.
© Risto Nieminen, 1994
© Ircam - Centre Georges-Pompidou, 1994
(From Kaija Saariaho, Ircam 1995)
Darmstadt, August 25, 1982.