In 2002 I felt I wanted to write a piece of so called 'serious music' starting from what was for me a different approach. I wanted to take the dance music of the day as a starting point and develop it into a multilayered and complex form very different from that of popular music, and yet intimately related to it. I wished then to create new compositions that starting from the rhythmic sound world of that time (hip hop, techno, tango, salsa, etc) explored new developmental musical discourses. The emphasis then was in the word 'developmental'.
At that time I ask myself these questions: what is it in hip-hop or in any other modern groove that attracts an audience, and what is it that the comopser of serious European art music can bring into this equation that is meaningful or new?
What is the difference between popular and art music today?
I looked at it from this perspective: popular music is not developmental. One can 'enter' a piece of popular music, start listening to a sound track from more or less any point in the piece. One can hear popular music in the background or foreground, drift away from it and later re-enter its listening space without getting lost. This is mostly because popular dance music is not developing its discourse into a new direction all the time, as a matter of principle. Once the piece is 'established’ its song-like structure remains the same even for those pieces which are no song-based. Its strength is in the emotional power of its sound world. Its limitation is that it cannot explore a narrative beyond the sound world it conjures. This limitation is consistent with its function.
Serious art music does -more often than not- just the opposite: it develops an idea radically transforming it over the length of a composition, demanding our unconditional attention from beginning to end. If you miss the beginning you cannot 'hop in' at any arbitrary point in a piece. The strength of this music is in the processes it unfolds which often start with a simple idea and develops complex narratives over extended periods of time. Its nature is developmental. It is more concerned with developing a narrative than with projecting or inventing a new sound world. Its weakness can often stem from its difficulty in establishing a powerful and immediate sound world early on in its discourse, or even at all. The essential requirement of any narrative is that we understand the 'characters' of the story. Contemporary art music finds it hard to connect with an audience because what happens in its discourse, happens to characters our audiences can no longer recognize. At this point, the ability to communicate is weakened or lost. Throughout much of its successful history, art music was about what happened to musical ideas derived from popular dance. In the past, audience usually had an entry point into what was often very complex music. What developed over time were dance patterns, rhythms and melodic cells that most people were familiar with. In that way it was possible to move from the dance floor to the concert hall following a continuous path. Today, we have-by and large- no path connecting the dance music most people listen to with the concert hall where art or 'serious' contemporary music is performed. So back in 2002 I want to recover the 'state of grace' where popular music and art music shared a common surface while keeping very different objectives and aims.
In 2003 I tried to turn all these thoughts into music. The result was 'The World We Know'.