Ulpiu Vlad – The light of roads (2011)
(b. Zărneşti, 27 January 1945)
average duration: 20’
“The essence of music is by far much more important that the means used to make it sound in front of an audience”.
These were amongst the first words Ulpiu Vlad shared with me when I asked him about the origins of his aleatoric technique. Close to the beginning of his career as a composer in the 70’s, he became preoccupied with the contrast between the strict nature of composition and the sense of freedom expected in performance. Along his path as a composer, Ulpiu Vlad has passed through a number of experimental phases involving serial- modal language, texture, sound “clouds”, microtonal music, and folkloric improvisation, to name but a few. In the period in which he began to compose, contemporary music was renowned for its intricateness while at the same time, an avant-garde movement of aleatoric music was gaining more and more momentum. This trend is mirrored in the evolution of Ulpiu Vlad’s compositions; from complex and very demanding scores with mathematical rhythms, to the less rigid music that tries to involve the performer as well in the compositional act. The Romanian musicologist Valentina Sandu-Dediu compared the chain reaction between integral serialism and aleatoric music, with Ulpiu Vlad’s evolution from abstract constructions to music with a tighter connection with the player.
If the score is written in a knotty or tangled way, the performer will be overburdened. But there are ways of writing that will stimulate his creativeness. The music is constantly adapting and one of the present goals is to have a less stressed interpreter, unrestrained by an overwhelming amount of work. There are scores that even after half of year of studying still press on the player’s nerves and constrain him to think primarily at the technical aspect.
Explaining the above quotation of his words, Ulpiu Vlad tells an anecdote about his experience with a violinist. They were working on a piece together, and the violinist, who was dubious about some techniques of aleatoric notation, asked the composer to rewrite the score with actual notes. A new version was handed to him, in which Ulpiu Vlad had put what he approximated to be the initial “improvisation” of the instrumentalist guided by graphic signs. The result, written on the staff with precise notes and rhythm, looked like a complex mathematical equation that would require days of calculating and studying. This couldn’t be played and as a consequence they arrived back at the aleatoric notation. In conclusion, this kind of “imprecise” writing came out of “a need to develop the music further. New music has its own laws, structures and, thus, its specific semeiography. There is no reason to enclose the instrumentalist with a huge list of stiff restrictions. And since the public is only interested in what it hears, a different graphic or notational solution had to be found, which enables the music to become natural and spontaneous – like breathing. The free performer instinctively creates something beautiful.”…
Read full preface / German version not available > HERE