On Monday, our Spring Encounters series featured composer Son Lux, who discussed his early experiences with The Rite and the role it played in his musical development. Son Lux has actually incorporated aspects of Stravinsky’s music into his own electronic work, and in today’s bonus edition of Spring Encounters, he will discuss what Stravinsky has to do with his song Rising. So, without further ado, Son Lux:
I found an opportunity to incorporate the beginning of the opening phrase of The Rite in a few places. Listen for it in the vocal melody throughout (“We are Rising Sons!” and responding strings and winds):
It also appears in one of the celesta parts, where it is allowed just a bit more of the original phrase. Listen to the “response” line, which is mostly in the right speaker:
In the final section of Rising, I take a cue from Stravinsky’s clever juxtaposition of inherently frictional rhythms. The goal was to create a similar feeling Stravinsky accomplishes during a particular moment of The Rite. Here’s the London Philharmonic, led by Kent Nagano, performing a section from Procession of The Sage. Notice how the deep groove turns on its ear. A new rhythmic element enters brashly, capturing your attention, and reorienting your ear’s perception of the elements that continue on as they were. So wicked!
I achieved this effect by suddenly changing tempo and meter in such a way that the time value of a full bar remains the same. Stravinky doesn’t do this, but I was going for a similar result. It’s an example of metric modulation, where a given rhythmic value in a measure is the pivot point around which a new tempo is established at the bar line. But in this case, as the time value of each full bar is the same (so a bar of 5/8 in the first tempo takes up the same amount of time as a 2/4 bar in the second tempo), I was able to continue elements from the first part into the second. They share a downbeat. In a way this is also an example of polymeter. My individual rhythms are far more “polite,” but clashing tempi and meter in disparate chunks has a similar result. Again, it’s shifting chunks of sound and rhythm, smashing into each other. So to demonstrate it clearly, I’ve pulled apart some elements. Here is one contingent, the celesta, gamelan, strings and winds. They act as a unit, and carry on in one tempo and meter: