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АА Мишель ван дер ♂ 1970- Нидерланды, музыкант многогранный, композитор AA Michel van der ♂ 1970- The Netherland, musician multidisciplinary, composer

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Родился 1970-03-10
http://www.vanderaa.net/

Michel van der Aa elsewhere on the web

@ publisher Boosey & Hawkes
boosey.com/aa
@ Disquiet Media label
disquietmedia.net
@ Intermusica management
intermusica.co.uk/vanderaa
@ Facebook
facebook/vanderaa
@ Twitter
twitter/vanderaanet
@ Music Center The Netherlands
muziekcentrumnederland.nl

Hire library. Commission inquiries. Promotion and marketing. Licensing. Audio and video samplers, perusal scores. Repertoire advice.
Boosey & Hawkes Berlin
(Germany/Austria/Switzerland)
Lützowufer 26, D-10787 Berlin
Tel.: +49-30-2500 1323
Fax: +49-30-2500 1399
Kerstin Schuessler-Bach – Promotion
Anke Nikolai – Audio and video archive
Website: www.boosey.com
Boosey & Hawkes London
(rest of world except USA/Canada)
Aldwych House, 71-91 Aldwych, London WC2B 4HN
tel: +44-20 7054 7256
fax: +44-20 7054 7293
Hannah Waddell – Promotion
Website: www.boosey.com
Boosey & Hawkes New York City
(USA/Canada)
35 East 21st Street, NY 10010-6212 New York
Tel: +1-212-358 5300
Fax: +1-212-358 5301
Steven Lankenau – Promotion
Website: www.boosey.com

project management

Inquiries for ‘After Life’, ‘The Book of Disquiet’, ‘Sunken Garden’. Booking, budgeting.
Intermusica Artists’ Management Ltd
36 Graham Street. Crystal Wharf
London N1 8GJ
Phone: +44 20 7608 9932
Kate Caro (Manager)
Website: www.intermusica.co.uk

technical producer

Technical riders, logistics for ‘The Book of Disquiet’, ‘After Life’, ‘Up-close’ & ‘Sunken Garden’.
Frank van der Weij
Office: +31-20-6235 231
Mobile: +31-6-5343 7427
E-mail: info@frankvanderweijstudio.nl

former publisher

Hiring and purchase of works published prior to 2000.
Donemus (Foundation/Publishing)
Rijswijkseplein 786,
2516 LX Den Haag
The Netherlands
Rental/Sales: webshop
Website: donemus.nl
 
Born 1970-03-10
http://www.vanderaa.net/

Michel van der Aa elsewhere on the web

@ publisher Boosey & Hawkes
boosey.com/aa
@ Disquiet Media label
disquietmedia.net
@ Intermusica management
intermusica.co.uk/vanderaa
@ Facebook
facebook/vanderaa
@ Twitter
twitter/vanderaanet
@ Music Center The Netherlands
muziekcentrumnederland.nl

Hire library. Commission inquiries. Promotion and marketing. Licensing. Audio and video samplers, perusal scores. Repertoire advice.
Boosey & Hawkes Berlin
(Germany/Austria/Switzerland)
Lützowufer 26, D-10787 Berlin
Tel.: +49-30-2500 1323
Fax: +49-30-2500 1399
Kerstin Schuessler-Bach – Promotion
Anke Nikolai – Audio and video archive
Website: www.boosey.com
Boosey & Hawkes London
(rest of world except USA/Canada)
Aldwych House, 71-91 Aldwych, London WC2B 4HN
tel: +44-20 7054 7256
fax: +44-20 7054 7293
Hannah Waddell – Promotion
Website: www.boosey.com
Boosey & Hawkes New York City
(USA/Canada)
35 East 21st Street, NY 10010-6212 New York
Tel: +1-212-358 5300
Fax: +1-212-358 5301
Steven Lankenau – Promotion
Website: www.boosey.com

project management

Inquiries for ‘After Life’, ‘The Book of Disquiet’, ‘Sunken Garden’. Booking, budgeting.
Intermusica Artists’ Management Ltd
36 Graham Street. Crystal Wharf
London N1 8GJ
Phone: +44 20 7608 9932
Kate Caro (Manager)
Website: www.intermusica.co.uk

technical producer

Technical riders, logistics for ‘The Book of Disquiet’, ‘After Life’, ‘Up-close’ & ‘Sunken Garden’.
Frank van der Weij
Office: +31-20-6235 231
Mobile: +31-6-5343 7427
E-mail: info@frankvanderweijstudio.nl

former publisher

Hiring and purchase of works published prior to 2000.
Donemus (Foundation/Publishing)
Rijswijkseplein 786,
2516 LX Den Haag
The Netherlands
Rental/Sales: webshop
Website: donemus.nl
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 Michel van der Aa (1970, The Netherlands) studied composition and music-engineering at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands. He attended composition lessons with Diderik Wagenaar, Gilius van Bergeijk and Louis Andriessen. Van der Aa studied film directing at the New York Film Academy. He composed instrumental, orchestral, vocal and electronic pieces as well as music conceived in collaboration with artists in other disciplines. His pieces are performed by established musicians and ensembles in The Netherlands and abroad. His work has been played on radio and television and can be found on several CD releases. In 1994 a scholarship of the Fonds voor de podiumkunsten enabled him to participated in 'The International Dance Course for professional Choreographers and Composers, England'. In April and May 1996 Staring at the Space was performed, a full-length work for orchestra and ten dancers, commissioned by the Swedish Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and conceived in collaboration with choreographer Philippe Blanchard. During the 1997-98 season he was composer-in-residence of Percussion-group The Hague. In february 1999 Faust was premièred in Tokyo; a full-length work for ensemble, dancers and actors. Commissioned by the New National Theatre Tokyo and performed by the Nomad Ensemble. Choreography by Kazuko Hirabayashi. In 1999 he composed electronic tape inserts for the Peter Greenaway/Louis Andriessen opera Writing to Vermeer. In 2000 he collaborated with director Hal Hartley and co-wrote the soundtrack for the short film The New Math(s). In 2001 he composed Vuur, a music-theatre work that was performed in a fortress on a small island near Amsterdam. Vuur was directed by Liesbeth Coltof, the libretto was written by Roel Adam. His composition Between has won the International Gaudeamus Prize 1999. In 2000 Van der Aa won the Matthijs Vermeulen Incentive prize from the Amsterdam Art Foundation for Attach Michel van der Aa was commissioned by Percussiongroup The Hague,VPRO television, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra Sweden, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Ives Ensemble, New National Theatre Tokyo, Spring Loaded Festival London, Schönberg Ensemble, Tomoko Mukaiyama, Maarten Altena Ensemble, The Netherlands Opera, PFS Ensemble Sweden, Orkest de Volharding The work of Michel van der Aa is published by Donemus. An introduction to the work of Michel van der Aa by Sylvia Stoetzer. MICHEL VAN DER AA: THEATRICAL IMAGINATION In the twists and turns of the young composer, Michel van der Aa, one tries to find enduring features in his idiom. One of these is a strong theatrical imagination. Dramatis personae take on various identities. Musicians who are visible on the stage are either not always audible or they interact with their electronic evil sisters, processed sounds on tape. A theatrical, virtual space comes into being which is not confined to the concert hall but is extended into the mind of the audience. The context in which the various dramatis personae appear is changing constantly, often with abrupt shifts to various soundscapes. Incisive cuts and montage techniques betray a digital sensitivity as well as the zap mentality of the composer whose roots lie in recording techniques. Space and time fascinate Michel van der Aa who does not shirk from tampering with the perception of the listener. He prefers to wrong foot the listener or to call to mind the nauseating feeling in your stomach when you theoretically jump out of an aeroplane, a feeling that he himself describes as an "airbag". The physical, theatrical aspect in his music is also appealing to choreographers with whom he often collaborates. In the compositions, which appeal directly to the emotions, there also lies an intellectual and lucid structure. Here is the difference between his earlier and later work. Whereas the compositions such as Auburn evolved in a playful and intuitive manner with a lot of ideas, the recent trilogy is constructed on just one concept with the minimum of material. Perhaps a little of the ideas of The Hague school remains in works such as Attach, Between and Above. The titles are the key to how the material is situated and suggest a certain detachment. According to Van der Aa these one-liners do not express the emotional content of the music but only the outline of the piece. His music is physical and humane for him and not at all remote and mathematical. Between, written during his period as composer-in-residence with The Hague Percussion Group and awarded the International Gaudeamus prize in 1999 is perhaps his most mathematical piece but at the same time possesses a down-to-earth strength. Attach and Above are players pieces, which call to mind strong emotions and communicate with the audience. This is significant for Van der Aa in his music. "I like to evoke extreme reactions". "I have confidence in the machine, that curiously I put on a pedestal or under a glass, but I distrust the machine in myself." (G. Duhamel) DRAMATIC CONFLICT: MAN AGAINST MACHINE Van der Aa throws new light on the age-old antithesis between man and machine that is a paradox for him. In a major part of his oeuvre he combines a live performance with electronic sounds on tape in a subtle way. He is fascinated by the tension, which exists between the rigidity of the tape and the humanity of the musician who has to respond to strict cues. “Musicians must be on the edge of their seats in order to be in time. The energy, which comes from this, is what I find interesting. I like the idea of a struggle to the finish very much indeed, of an almost masochistic fight with the tape as in Oog [Eye] and Attach", according to Van der Aa. At first in Oog for tape composed in 1995, the cello determines what happens on the tape. As the piece develops the electronic tape consisting of sounds and tones from the cello part takes control and drowns out the 'live' cello with its electronic counterpart. The live cello then goes its own way and detaches itself completely from the tape. The notation which Van der Aa uses in these pieces with tape encourages a certain rigidity in the playing of the cellist: he combines a real time notation in minutes and seconds with a metrical indication. The musicians and conductor are unwilling puppets of the stopwatch. In contrast to Stockhausen who gives his musicians a certain freedom to respond to cues. "For me it would not work with cues, because my tapes are so closely interwoven with the score. This is one of my strengths I think." In Attach, commissioned by the Schönberg Ensemble and awarded the Incentive prize of the Amsterdam Arts Foundation, the tape and the ensemble form two objects that help each other to form one totality. The tape 'pastes on' a new set of overtones, derived from the previous set of overtones present in the chords. The first set of overtones is manipulated and put back onto the same long notes in the ensemble. "The tape is a mask which is worn by the live instruments. Instruments become out of tune and receive a different identity." Just like the French structuralist Lévi-Strauss and other precursors of the postmodernists, Van der Aa does not believe in the absolute identity of the musician, the instrument or the tape but instead examines the interaction between relative concepts: a musician who becomes unyielding, a tape which becomes emotional and an instrument that is deprived of its traditional timbre. "I see the tape as an additional instrument, an extension: I use it only because I can do things with it that is not possible with an instrument, like cutting out overtones or creating acoustical space around a live instrument. My tapes are very empty and do not contain full soundscapes that engulf the instrument once and awhile." Van der Aa's tapes always contain the sounds of the instruments, which interact with it. This has a theatrical meaning for him. "You can confuse people a lot. In Oog the tape takes over the A from the cellist who stops bowing. You see it happening. The pumping up or breaking down of energy, as well as provoking reactions is very important to me." It seems as though Van der Aa uses the tape as a means of distortion, but he strongly denies this. "The tape is an essential part of the illusion. I use it to show the other side of the piece, the tape is organically connected with it." double [1997] TRAGIC IRONY Van der Aa should not be typecast as a "tape composer". He also writes purely instrumental music although there is always a catch somewhere. One of his most important works, Wake composed in 1997, is commedia dell'arte for a percussionist and a percussionist who mimes. Van der Aa examined to what degree visual and audible parts could interfere in a virtual canon. Both percussionists 'play' the same material after each other. Van der Aa always conscious for whom he is composing, wrote Wake for Arnold Marinissen and Ron Colbers. "Ron has theatrical ambitions and has played a lot of Kagel." Wake has a sort of "Pierrot" humour. Colbers played the tragicomic role of a floundering percussionist who really wants to succeed but helplessly flails his arms about in the air. The failed attempt to catch up with his companion and the idle hope of a resounding result gives this humoristic piece a tragic undertone. You see his part on the stage; you hear virtual labour pains in your head. Kagel's Dressur in which Colbers also played a star role, is politically engaged and exposes the balance of power in music. This is not to say that Van der Aa has political ambition, but he considers himself a humanist. "My music is about people and their emotions." Van der Aa also made grateful use of the theatrical charisma of the pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama to whom he dedicated Just Before. "What I do is to reverse the conception of certain chords, indicating an enormous maestoso chord which is to be played mezzo-piano." The theatrical gestures are structured within the form of a ballet of the movements of arms crossing each other. Mukaiyama throws the right arm over the left with impossible fast, Ligeti-like clusters like a wild snare drum flying against the pulse. In Between, Van der Aa also uses dramatic means such as irony. At the end cymbals sound on the tape which are actually muffled by the percussionists on stage. "Strangely enough you hear the cymbals again later on. They have become self-resonating. The end is a mirroring of the quiet beginning where the percussionists are miming. That the percussionists to no avail, try to silence their instruments or play them, works in a theatrical way. In the struggle between man and 'machine', the machine 'reacts' this time itself." VIRTUAL SPACE, AIRBAGS, IVORY BALL QING DYNASTY An important style element of Van der Aa is the so-called 'airbags'. Just Before is all about this. "When you jump out of an aeroplane there is a moment when you do not fall and do not rise. At that moment I do not feel anything at all." Van der Aa extends this moment and freezes time. When a chord resonates he clips open the ends of the chord's reverberation in different stages. In the vacuum the instruments play or there follows a short rest. "This is perhaps my way of dealing with polyphony. I just make a new time axis." With these vacuum moments he brings musical development to a standstill and at the same time prolongs the tension of the climax as long as possible. Just Before is a musical elastic band that is stretched three times and then released. A fugal section from the piano part springs back in the tape. Van der Aa combines a way of linear thinking with a cyclical conception of time. His music is based on conceptual processes that are simultaneously denied. In Between, the second part of his trilogy, he visualised his piece as an art object from the Chinese Qing dynasty, an ivory ball with several layers. "I had the idea of cutting open the form and placing material between other material. That happened in the form as a whole but also in details such as rhythmical patterns and changes in timbre. I cut open an A fragment, followed by a moment of silence, then you hear a snatch of A on the tape and then B begins. You keep on hearing a throwback, the layers of the ball. Above, written for the Ives Ensemble, is a sort of fugue. "The tape provides new surroundings. The idea is that I repeat the same note material literally in the ensemble and only change the tape. In this way the whole context for the notes is changed. The tape exists out of repeats and previews of moments. I have lifted moments from the ensemble sound and stretched them out completely, then I made a soundscape and put other moments on top of it." Van der Aa uses montage techniques. He finds the term montage structure misleading because his music is too through-composed for this. He creates a virtual space in which objects move with dimensions that we cannot immediately experience. He plays with our feeling for distance and time. Van der Aa is very inspired by the wonderful, abstract sculptures by the Indian artist Anish Kapoor which are so carved out that when you put your head inside you see an unfathomable deepness. DIGITAL SENSITIVITY Brittle, abrupt changes to soundscapes, echoes or quietness reflect a zap mentality and digital sensitivity. They are what is left from his earlier studies in sound recording. Van der Aa: "That I can easily cut I think is a consequence of my experience with computers and sound recordings. I have used the electronic tricks acoustically. The cuts are also concerned with freezing things, stopping a procedure in an extra-musical manner. I see this as an operation, which is absolutely theatrical. I would even prefer to put an ugly click under it." Electronic and acoustical ticks are associated with turning machines on and off. In the unison piece Attach, the digital pulse is the main subject. The ensemble struggles against the mesmerising ticks on the tape and comes out of phase with each other. „I really like a pulse which I find essential, as a primitive form in the dance the heartbeat and in the blood. It is what keeps everything together."The metronome whisks the ensemble along in Attach. Van der Aa creates an uneasy feeling inside the listener. "I begin with a pulse and then put a much faster pulse under it. Through the increasing density you get internal, molecular patterns. Instruments remain suspended and get out of phase. Repetition occurs a lot in my music without it becoming minimalist. The obsessive repetition is caused more by autism and powerlessness: suspended in an idiom and then not being able to get out of it. I see it as a compulsive illness." The digital ticks allow for musical immobility, they stop everything for a moment, not tutti but with a few musicians. "Then you get several time axes and the piece disintegrates completely." 'GETTING RID OF THE WATER', DANCE, MUSIC THEATRE Van der Aa considers his participation in the International Course for Professional Choreographers and Composers in 1994 as essential in his development as a composer. Artistic director and choreographer of the English dance company DV-8, Loyd Nelson, made a tremendous impression on him: "Learn to realise for yourself what you want to say before you start to work. Dispose of all the exterior rubbish, he called it getting rid of the water." Van der Aa's work took a leap forward with the visionary work Oog and numerous productive collaborations. Now [in fragments] sealed the marriage with his artistic soul mate and choreographer Ben Wright. This geometric choreography deals with the theme of leave-taking. "On the one hand we thought of transience, the linear idea of time, on the other hand the cyclical aspect, time as a coil. Everything repeats itself and develops very slowly." Van der Aa's theatrical space with objects like machines and his visual, cinematic and physical language attract choreographers. In Staring at the Space Van der Aa and the choreographer, his opposite number Philippe Blanchard experimented with three dimensional set-ups and changing groups of performers that unexpectedly show up in the spotlights. One of the dancers mentioned that: "Your music always sounds as if there is someone next door renovating his house. There is an exterior world, a sort of context." Van der Aa: "I thought maybe that is so but it is not something I do consciously." The electronic inserts by Van der Aa in the opera Writing to Vermeer by Peter Greenaway and Louis Andriessen do consciously form a window on to the outside world. They work as distortions in the performance. "Those inserts are very functional. I have tried to make an abstract, musical story from realistic sounds." The sound material of his metaphorical soundtracks is mostly derived from instruments. "But I really like organic materials, the breaking of twigs in Now [in fragments] is my favourite sound and it appears in many of my pieces. I experience it as a symbol which I carry around with me." Staring at the Space [1996] POST-HAGUE SCHOOL His most performed and his first mature composition is Auburn for guitar and tape, the instruments of his own musical past. The many-coloured solo sequence is based on a number of ideas. The impulsive debut looks forward to 'extended' instrumental techniques, by bowing guitar strings with a violin bow which creates for an electronic alter ego for the guitar. There is a taut, almost theatrical direction of the musician and tape. Double for violin and prepared piano written for the violinist Maria del Mar Escarabajal and the percussionist Tatiana Koleva is an extremely theatrical piece about the communication between two women. The percussionist cum pianist misleads the violinist who reacts to a false movement. The duo carries on in the tradition of violin and piano literature and then, in a struggle, breaks with this tradition. The Japanese Ensemble Nomad follows in the footsteps of this piece with Quadrivial, a version for flute, violin, cello and piano, performed during the Gaudeamus Week 2000. Van der Aa has worked closely with this group since their performance of his music for the choreography of Faust. In this piece he researched material for his later trilogy pieces Attach and Above. In the last few years Van der Aa has made a lightning development as a composer. In 2000 he is working on a commission from the Radio Chamber Orchestra conducted by Peter Eötvös for the prestigious contemporary music festival in Donaueschingen. His music has now found a more definite style. In the wake of The Hague School he bases his trilogy consistently on one concept with a minimum of material: ten chords. He creates antitheses, dialogues or conflicts between two parts. His education at the conservatory in The Hague with Diderik Wagenaar, Louis Andriessen and Gilius van Bergeijk is reflected in a hocket for ensemble and tape. Van der Aa: "I have the energy, clarity, and the ability to concentrate on one concept. But I think that harmony plays an important role in the compositions of The Hague School, the notes are of the essence. In my work harmony is subordinate to the theatrical and electronic layers. It is about the relationship between ensemble and tape and between people."
Sylvia Stoetzer transl. Ian Borthwick © MGN/Donemus/Stoetzer August 2000 ISBN 9074560-41-5 
 Michel van der Aa (1970, The Netherlands) studied composition and music-engineering at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands. He attended composition lessons with Diderik Wagenaar, Gilius van Bergeijk and Louis Andriessen. Van der Aa studied film directing at the New York Film Academy. He composed instrumental, orchestral, vocal and electronic pieces as well as music conceived in collaboration with artists in other disciplines. His pieces are performed by established musicians and ensembles in The Netherlands and abroad. His work has been played on radio and television and can be found on several CD releases. In 1994 a scholarship of the Fonds voor de podiumkunsten enabled him to participated in 'The International Dance Course for professional Choreographers and Composers, England'. In April and May 1996 Staring at the Space was performed, a full-length work for orchestra and ten dancers, commissioned by the Swedish Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and conceived in collaboration with choreographer Philippe Blanchard. During the 1997-98 season he was composer-in-residence of Percussion-group The Hague. In february 1999 Faust was premièred in Tokyo; a full-length work for ensemble, dancers and actors. Commissioned by the New National Theatre Tokyo and performed by the Nomad Ensemble. Choreography by Kazuko Hirabayashi. In 1999 he composed electronic tape inserts for the Peter Greenaway/Louis Andriessen opera Writing to Vermeer. In 2000 he collaborated with director Hal Hartley and co-wrote the soundtrack for the short film The New Math(s). In 2001 he composed Vuur, a music-theatre work that was performed in a fortress on a small island near Amsterdam. Vuur was directed by Liesbeth Coltof, the libretto was written by Roel Adam. His composition Between has won the International Gaudeamus Prize 1999. In 2000 Van der Aa won the Matthijs Vermeulen Incentive prize from the Amsterdam Art Foundation for Attach Michel van der Aa was commissioned by Percussiongroup The Hague,VPRO television, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra Sweden, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Ives Ensemble, New National Theatre Tokyo, Spring Loaded Festival London, Schönberg Ensemble, Tomoko Mukaiyama, Maarten Altena Ensemble, The Netherlands Opera, PFS Ensemble Sweden, Orkest de Volharding The work of Michel van der Aa is published by Donemus. An introduction to the work of Michel van der Aa by Sylvia Stoetzer. MICHEL VAN DER AA: THEATRICAL IMAGINATION In the twists and turns of the young composer, Michel van der Aa, one tries to find enduring features in his idiom. One of these is a strong theatrical imagination. Dramatis personae take on various identities. Musicians who are visible on the stage are either not always audible or they interact with their electronic evil sisters, processed sounds on tape. A theatrical, virtual space comes into being which is not confined to the concert hall but is extended into the mind of the audience. The context in which the various dramatis personae appear is changing constantly, often with abrupt shifts to various soundscapes. Incisive cuts and montage techniques betray a digital sensitivity as well as the zap mentality of the composer whose roots lie in recording techniques. Space and time fascinate Michel van der Aa who does not shirk from tampering with the perception of the listener. He prefers to wrong foot the listener or to call to mind the nauseating feeling in your stomach when you theoretically jump out of an aeroplane, a feeling that he himself describes as an "airbag". The physical, theatrical aspect in his music is also appealing to choreographers with whom he often collaborates. In the compositions, which appeal directly to the emotions, there also lies an intellectual and lucid structure. Here is the difference between his earlier and later work. Whereas the compositions such as Auburn evolved in a playful and intuitive manner with a lot of ideas, the recent trilogy is constructed on just one concept with the minimum of material. Perhaps a little of the ideas of The Hague school remains in works such as Attach, Between and Above. The titles are the key to how the material is situated and suggest a certain detachment. According to Van der Aa these one-liners do not express the emotional content of the music but only the outline of the piece. His music is physical and humane for him and not at all remote and mathematical. Between, written during his period as composer-in-residence with The Hague Percussion Group and awarded the International Gaudeamus prize in 1999 is perhaps his most mathematical piece but at the same time possesses a down-to-earth strength. Attach and Above are players pieces, which call to mind strong emotions and communicate with the audience. This is significant for Van der Aa in his music. "I like to evoke extreme reactions". "I have confidence in the machine, that curiously I put on a pedestal or under a glass, but I distrust the machine in myself." (G. Duhamel) DRAMATIC CONFLICT: MAN AGAINST MACHINE Van der Aa throws new light on the age-old antithesis between man and machine that is a paradox for him. In a major part of his oeuvre he combines a live performance with electronic sounds on tape in a subtle way. He is fascinated by the tension, which exists between the rigidity of the tape and the humanity of the musician who has to respond to strict cues. “Musicians must be on the edge of their seats in order to be in time. The energy, which comes from this, is what I find interesting. I like the idea of a struggle to the finish very much indeed, of an almost masochistic fight with the tape as in Oog [Eye] and Attach", according to Van der Aa. At first in Oog for tape composed in 1995, the cello determines what happens on the tape. As the piece develops the electronic tape consisting of sounds and tones from the cello part takes control and drowns out the 'live' cello with its electronic counterpart. The live cello then goes its own way and detaches itself completely from the tape. The notation which Van der Aa uses in these pieces with tape encourages a certain rigidity in the playing of the cellist: he combines a real time notation in minutes and seconds with a metrical indication. The musicians and conductor are unwilling puppets of the stopwatch. In contrast to Stockhausen who gives his musicians a certain freedom to respond to cues. "For me it would not work with cues, because my tapes are so closely interwoven with the score. This is one of my strengths I think." In Attach, commissioned by the Schönberg Ensemble and awarded the Incentive prize of the Amsterdam Arts Foundation, the tape and the ensemble form two objects that help each other to form one totality. The tape 'pastes on' a new set of overtones, derived from the previous set of overtones present in the chords. The first set of overtones is manipulated and put back onto the same long notes in the ensemble. "The tape is a mask which is worn by the live instruments. Instruments become out of tune and receive a different identity." Just like the French structuralist Lévi-Strauss and other precursors of the postmodernists, Van der Aa does not believe in the absolute identity of the musician, the instrument or the tape but instead examines the interaction between relative concepts: a musician who becomes unyielding, a tape which becomes emotional and an instrument that is deprived of its traditional timbre. "I see the tape as an additional instrument, an extension: I use it only because I can do things with it that is not possible with an instrument, like cutting out overtones or creating acoustical space around a live instrument. My tapes are very empty and do not contain full soundscapes that engulf the instrument once and awhile." Van der Aa's tapes always contain the sounds of the instruments, which interact with it. This has a theatrical meaning for him. "You can confuse people a lot. In Oog the tape takes over the A from the cellist who stops bowing. You see it happening. The pumping up or breaking down of energy, as well as provoking reactions is very important to me." It seems as though Van der Aa uses the tape as a means of distortion, but he strongly denies this. "The tape is an essential part of the illusion. I use it to show the other side of the piece, the tape is organically connected with it." double [1997] TRAGIC IRONY Van der Aa should not be typecast as a "tape composer". He also writes purely instrumental music although there is always a catch somewhere. One of his most important works, Wake composed in 1997, is commedia dell'arte for a percussionist and a percussionist who mimes. Van der Aa examined to what degree visual and audible parts could interfere in a virtual canon. Both percussionists 'play' the same material after each other. Van der Aa always conscious for whom he is composing, wrote Wake for Arnold Marinissen and Ron Colbers. "Ron has theatrical ambitions and has played a lot of Kagel." Wake has a sort of "Pierrot" humour. Colbers played the tragicomic role of a floundering percussionist who really wants to succeed but helplessly flails his arms about in the air. The failed attempt to catch up with his companion and the idle hope of a resounding result gives this humoristic piece a tragic undertone. You see his part on the stage; you hear virtual labour pains in your head. Kagel's Dressur in which Colbers also played a star role, is politically engaged and exposes the balance of power in music. This is not to say that Van der Aa has political ambition, but he considers himself a humanist. "My music is about people and their emotions." Van der Aa also made grateful use of the theatrical charisma of the pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama to whom he dedicated Just Before. "What I do is to reverse the conception of certain chords, indicating an enormous maestoso chord which is to be played mezzo-piano." The theatrical gestures are structured within the form of a ballet of the movements of arms crossing each other. Mukaiyama throws the right arm over the left with impossible fast, Ligeti-like clusters like a wild snare drum flying against the pulse. In Between, Van der Aa also uses dramatic means such as irony. At the end cymbals sound on the tape which are actually muffled by the percussionists on stage. "Strangely enough you hear the cymbals again later on. They have become self-resonating. The end is a mirroring of the quiet beginning where the percussionists are miming. That the percussionists to no avail, try to silence their instruments or play them, works in a theatrical way. In the struggle between man and 'machine', the machine 'reacts' this time itself." VIRTUAL SPACE, AIRBAGS, IVORY BALL QING DYNASTY An important style element of Van der Aa is the so-called 'airbags'. Just Before is all about this. "When you jump out of an aeroplane there is a moment when you do not fall and do not rise. At that moment I do not feel anything at all." Van der Aa extends this moment and freezes time. When a chord resonates he clips open the ends of the chord's reverberation in different stages. In the vacuum the instruments play or there follows a short rest. "This is perhaps my way of dealing with polyphony. I just make a new time axis." With these vacuum moments he brings musical development to a standstill and at the same time prolongs the tension of the climax as long as possible. Just Before is a musical elastic band that is stretched three times and then released. A fugal section from the piano part springs back in the tape. Van der Aa combines a way of linear thinking with a cyclical conception of time. His music is based on conceptual processes that are simultaneously denied. In Between, the second part of his trilogy, he visualised his piece as an art object from the Chinese Qing dynasty, an ivory ball with several layers. "I had the idea of cutting open the form and placing material between other material. That happened in the form as a whole but also in details such as rhythmical patterns and changes in timbre. I cut open an A fragment, followed by a moment of silence, then you hear a snatch of A on the tape and then B begins. You keep on hearing a throwback, the layers of the ball. Above, written for the Ives Ensemble, is a sort of fugue. "The tape provides new surroundings. The idea is that I repeat the same note material literally in the ensemble and only change the tape. In this way the whole context for the notes is changed. The tape exists out of repeats and previews of moments. I have lifted moments from the ensemble sound and stretched them out completely, then I made a soundscape and put other moments on top of it." Van der Aa uses montage techniques. He finds the term montage structure misleading because his music is too through-composed for this. He creates a virtual space in which objects move with dimensions that we cannot immediately experience. He plays with our feeling for distance and time. Van der Aa is very inspired by the wonderful, abstract sculptures by the Indian artist Anish Kapoor which are so carved out that when you put your head inside you see an unfathomable deepness. DIGITAL SENSITIVITY Brittle, abrupt changes to soundscapes, echoes or quietness reflect a zap mentality and digital sensitivity. They are what is left from his earlier studies in sound recording. Van der Aa: "That I can easily cut I think is a consequence of my experience with computers and sound recordings. I have used the electronic tricks acoustically. The cuts are also concerned with freezing things, stopping a procedure in an extra-musical manner. I see this as an operation, which is absolutely theatrical. I would even prefer to put an ugly click under it." Electronic and acoustical ticks are associated with turning machines on and off. In the unison piece Attach, the digital pulse is the main subject. The ensemble struggles against the mesmerising ticks on the tape and comes out of phase with each other. „I really like a pulse which I find essential, as a primitive form in the dance the heartbeat and in the blood. It is what keeps everything together."The metronome whisks the ensemble along in Attach. Van der Aa creates an uneasy feeling inside the listener. "I begin with a pulse and then put a much faster pulse under it. Through the increasing density you get internal, molecular patterns. Instruments remain suspended and get out of phase. Repetition occurs a lot in my music without it becoming minimalist. The obsessive repetition is caused more by autism and powerlessness: suspended in an idiom and then not being able to get out of it. I see it as a compulsive illness." The digital ticks allow for musical immobility, they stop everything for a moment, not tutti but with a few musicians. "Then you get several time axes and the piece disintegrates completely." 'GETTING RID OF THE WATER', DANCE, MUSIC THEATRE Van der Aa considers his participation in the International Course for Professional Choreographers and Composers in 1994 as essential in his development as a composer. Artistic director and choreographer of the English dance company DV-8, Loyd Nelson, made a tremendous impression on him: "Learn to realise for yourself what you want to say before you start to work. Dispose of all the exterior rubbish, he called it getting rid of the water." Van der Aa's work took a leap forward with the visionary work Oog and numerous productive collaborations. Now [in fragments] sealed the marriage with his artistic soul mate and choreographer Ben Wright. This geometric choreography deals with the theme of leave-taking. "On the one hand we thought of transience, the linear idea of time, on the other hand the cyclical aspect, time as a coil. Everything repeats itself and develops very slowly." Van der Aa's theatrical space with objects like machines and his visual, cinematic and physical language attract choreographers. In Staring at the Space Van der Aa and the choreographer, his opposite number Philippe Blanchard experimented with three dimensional set-ups and changing groups of performers that unexpectedly show up in the spotlights. One of the dancers mentioned that: "Your music always sounds as if there is someone next door renovating his house. There is an exterior world, a sort of context." Van der Aa: "I thought maybe that is so but it is not something I do consciously." The electronic inserts by Van der Aa in the opera Writing to Vermeer by Peter Greenaway and Louis Andriessen do consciously form a window on to the outside world. They work as distortions in the performance. "Those inserts are very functional. I have tried to make an abstract, musical story from realistic sounds." The sound material of his metaphorical soundtracks is mostly derived from instruments. "But I really like organic materials, the breaking of twigs in Now [in fragments] is my favourite sound and it appears in many of my pieces. I experience it as a symbol which I carry around with me." Staring at the Space [1996] POST-HAGUE SCHOOL His most performed and his first mature composition is Auburn for guitar and tape, the instruments of his own musical past. The many-coloured solo sequence is based on a number of ideas. The impulsive debut looks forward to 'extended' instrumental techniques, by bowing guitar strings with a violin bow which creates for an electronic alter ego for the guitar. There is a taut, almost theatrical direction of the musician and tape. Double for violin and prepared piano written for the violinist Maria del Mar Escarabajal and the percussionist Tatiana Koleva is an extremely theatrical piece about the communication between two women. The percussionist cum pianist misleads the violinist who reacts to a false movement. The duo carries on in the tradition of violin and piano literature and then, in a struggle, breaks with this tradition. The Japanese Ensemble Nomad follows in the footsteps of this piece with Quadrivial, a version for flute, violin, cello and piano, performed during the Gaudeamus Week 2000. Van der Aa has worked closely with this group since their performance of his music for the choreography of Faust. In this piece he researched material for his later trilogy pieces Attach and Above. In the last few years Van der Aa has made a lightning development as a composer. In 2000 he is working on a commission from the Radio Chamber Orchestra conducted by Peter Eötvös for the prestigious contemporary music festival in Donaueschingen. His music has now found a more definite style. In the wake of The Hague School he bases his trilogy consistently on one concept with a minimum of material: ten chords. He creates antitheses, dialogues or conflicts between two parts. His education at the conservatory in The Hague with Diderik Wagenaar, Louis Andriessen and Gilius van Bergeijk is reflected in a hocket for ensemble and tape. Van der Aa: "I have the energy, clarity, and the ability to concentrate on one concept. But I think that harmony plays an important role in the compositions of The Hague School, the notes are of the essence. In my work harmony is subordinate to the theatrical and electronic layers. It is about the relationship between ensemble and tape and between people." 
​Sylvia Stoetzer transl. Ian Borthwick © MGN/Donemus/Stoetzer August 2000 ISBN 9074560-41-5 
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