The composer Igor Stravinsky is alleged to have said “good composers don’t borrow, they steal” (which is possibly a reattribution of TS Eliot’s “immature poets imitate; mature poets steal” from The Sacred Wood). I’ve long been interested in the act of musical ‘borrowing’. From simple influence and re-use of technique to the process of quotation (or outright thievery), the whole phenomenon grants insight into the motivations of composers and listeners, as well as our (individual and collective) relationship with history — particularly with regard to canonisation.
I wondered: is it possible to create music that quotes itself? This idea turned out to be more complicated than first envisaged. A quotation isn’t simply a re-statement of material, but a motivated re-use of something that has a very separate and possibly very different function in another context. This distinction is particularly stark and raises a critical question when dealing with quotation in a self-contained work – how to separate quotation and simple repetition? I decided to write two complementary but discrete versions of the same piece, one for violin and one for piano. The two parts quote from each other. Crucially, the material they share is treated very differently by each instrument in accordance with the two parts’ unique sets of functions and processes. When performed as a duet, the violin and piano versions of This product contains borrowed ideas play around with differences and tensions between repetition, development, and quotation, making them a dynamic aspect of the performance. Hopefully it also helps intensify the independence of the two parts and the ways they operate.
In keeping with the compositional impetus, some of the material used has been ‘liberated’ (to use American military terminology) from existing music.
16 minutes 20 seconds
October 2011: Min Hee Kim (vln) & Ben McGowan (pno), Love2Arts Gallery, Antwerp
View Perusal Violin Part
View Perusal Piano Part
Please note there’s no ‘complete score’ for This product contains borrowed ideas. The piano and violin parts represent two different versions of the same piece, which may be played simultaneously. In the event of a duet performance the feeling of two separate (if simultaneous) performances should be maintained.
For performance materials please contact me
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