Improving the practice and performance of contemporary music

Interpretational difficulties and composer’s remarks

Musical tactics

All of Billone’s pieces are very long (Mani. Gonxha is about 18 minutes) and the musical material is so different from what we are used to, that it is difficult to plan a musical tactic for these pieces. In a way, the music is very expressive and gestural, which made me choose an intuitive approach: not really shaping or phrasing, just seeing what comes next. Using this tactic, you can also achieve his demand of moving from one movement of the piece into another without connection, as a total surprise.

Conversation with the composer

I had quite an extensive email conversation with Billone about some of the aspects of Mani. Gonxha. Below is a transcription of these conversations.

For the circular movement, is it imperative that the movement only makes one circle per written circle? Or can I make more circles if necessary to obtain a thicker and louder sound per written circle? For example in the beginning of the piece, first sequence.
One circle, one movement, but if you think it could be better more, do it where it seems to be necessary, of course.
Page 1 from tempo 48 first line until the end of the page: the bowls stay „fest” and dry until the end of the page, right? Because nothing is marked anymore from there on.
Page 1 from tempo 48 first line until the end of the page: the bowls stay „fest” and dry until the end of the page. But: same action -same quality, for instance in the Tremolo like action!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The right Bowl must resonate and therefore must be held by the hand without pressure.
Page 2 third line 5/8-4/8-10/8-2/8 the piano uuuuuuu passage. Do I play one or two small circles per eighth note? So 5/8 measure 5 small circles or 10? Because of the tempo… When its quarter equals 132, 10 circles is almost impossible. Page 2 two last lines: tempi: I think I asked you already, are these tempi correct? It’s really fast no?
Page 2: two last lines: thanks, you are right. I have checked now with the metronome.... All tempi of Page 2 third and fourth line are WRONG. Definitive correction:
  • Eight note = 132
  • Eight note = 138-142
  • Eight note = 132
Question about the voice in Gonxha: is it the same use as in Leonardis: Always soft as a resonance of the sounding bowls? Or is it more concrete in this piece? And is there a difference between voice with a white dot and voice with a black dot? Like on page 4 first system.
No difference, I simply forgot to fill the balls with black. For the voice:
  • 1. if the voice doubles an instrumental action, like in page 4 you must find a sound which remains instrumental (short durations, only suggested, minimal articulations  GO NO NO are simple impulses, as if it were a small drum doubling the metal sound of the bowls)
  • 2. Page 7, last line (as if it were a soft Talking drum sound with a small glissando downwards). The same for page 9 this time without glissando. Soft low range voice, like a talking drum played with a soft mallet.
  • 3. Page 10 here the voice is the voice. No whispering! You simply pray as you like, as natural as possible, your voice must be audible ONLY in the focus of the crescendo; by PPPP it will be almost NOT audible. Attention: Sfz-ppp means pianissimo, only clear articulated.
Page 2 second line last action, voice: This Spanish N: should there be a lot of difference from the M used in other actions in the piece?
  • Yes, if possible: with a clear nasalisation, dark.
    M = full sound, round, soft
    N= with nasalisation, nasal voice