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SubString bridge (2000)

was composed as a commission made by the Swedish Institute for National Concerts (IRK) for Mats Bergström already in 1998 but was not finalised until the autumn of 1999.

Because of the challenge of finally writing a piece for the only instrument I really know how to play well (but until this time consequently avoided writing for), put me in a state of ”researchomania”. For several months I investigated all the sounding possibilities from both an instrumental as well as an electro-acoustic point of view. As the final result proves, I ended up with a guitar part that in many respects is quite traditional, or at least idiomatic. This was the consequence of being confronted with an immense amount of pieces fishing in the deep seas  of bizarre playing techniques, outworldly tunings and a stunning set of string-exciting attributes. Realising that very few stones had been left unturned in this field and acknowledging the fact that the most obvious way to reach the ultimate extension of the guitar sound and gestures would be through interactive computer processing, I decided to keep a low profile on the guitar part putting more focus on sonic expansion in the interactive part of the composition.

I also wanted the piece to be an ”homage” to the guitar as an instrument and as a symbol of musical ”meaning”  to at least two generations. Although not wanting to expose the electric guitar or in other ways end up in overly obvious symbols of guitar ”heroism”, I have still included references to various classical guitar music genres and even a very short quotation from The guitarist par excellence (yes, you probably all know his name!).

The deeper idea of the piece implied by the title, is however that of the instrument as carrier of a set of invisible but resounding ”substrings”. Resonance not reflected by the natural body and limbs of the instrument, are still virtually present as inherent qualities or possibilities, and are revealed to the listener by this underlying set of strings.

According to theories of the basic construction of the universe (and thus of music), the world is the sum of innumerable vibrating strings of matter, displayed to us as atoms, molecules and eventually intelligent beings.

As the ”bridge” (witch is also the piece supporting the strings on the guitar ) between the invisible mechanics of the substrings and the visible actions of the performer, acts the computer as a transformer and relay of impulses between the audible and the inaudible layers of the music. The piece moves from the level of the ”guitaristic” display of scales, harmonics, tremolos etc towards a gradual loss of identity, merging into the summed sonic representation of the ”guitar-universe”.

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Mats Bergström


Per Erik Adamsson