The Spirit of Beings

This piece was written for cellist Matthew Barley’s Around Britten tour. In this tour this work will be performed in various different venues from concert halls to a lighthouse, an old swimming pool, possibly prisons, a woodland, pubs, churches, cathedrals, schools, conservatoires and The Red House, where Britten lived. Therefore I needed this piece to work in any location, so I decided to use quite practical technology for the electronics part. This is a departure from my other electronic works which I have produced in IRCAM and Experimentalstudio SWR as they use much more complex technology.

I also thought the fact that the same soloist will play this work numerous times, especially accompanied by a prepared electronic track gave me an opportunity to write movements which could be played in any order, so I decided that the work would consist of four movements. Each electronic track for each movement can be played from any type of music player. If the soloist decides, he can play the electronics on a device in shuffle mode. This helps the soloist to have a different track order for each performance if he feels like it. This gave me a great
Challenge — how is it possible for me to structure the whole piece when the performer can choose different permutations of movements — making the opening and closing of the piece different in each rendition? Some of the movements have a smooth transition into the next movement if they are placed together. Some do not.

Matthew Barley suggested the concept for this piece — it should be about pre-life. Whilst I was writing this work, my wife and I had our first baby, so this was an apt concept for me to broach musically.

The four movements in the piece are Aria, Floating, Awakening and Unending. I imagined that a child is a spirit waiting to be born. The spirit of the child chooses the parent. It floats around, maybe it is bounced around, and somehow, some sort of energies or aura meet. The spirit chooses the mother, from whom the spirit wants to be born (floating). While floating, I imagined that the spirit leaves a trace, a path of movement which makes a beautiful line, which is like a smooth melody (aria). When the spirit has decided the parent, I imagined that it locks into the spirit of the mother; cracking the spirit shell of the mother to get inside and start growing (awakening). But then these journeys seem endless by nature — a part of reincarnation — so the spirit in turn is unending, just repeatedly preparing to visit the earth, perhaps in different shapes (unending).

Dai Fujikura (edited by Harry Ross)

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