NNA is proud to announce the release of “Preamble,” a recording of new compositions by Qasim Naqvi. Perhaps best known for his work on drums in the modern acoustic trio Dawn of Midi, here Naqvi assumes the role of composer, creating a series of short works for mixed acoustic instruments. The compositions on this recording were originally commissioned by the media artist Mariam Ghani, the choreographer Erin Ellen Kelly, and the St. Louis Art Museum as a score to a film installation loosely based on China Miéville’s sci-fi noir novel “The City & the City.”
With “Preamble,” Naqvi combines graphic notation with traditional notational forms. Recalling the works of Penderecki, Earle Brown, Ligeti and Xenakis, these aleatoric components allow the ensemble to make spontaneous choices within a structured framework.
Naqvi says, “Some of the graphic components deal with dynamics and expression, while others deal with duration and rhythm or ranges that are unique to the particular instruments in the ensemble. This symbolic language is fused into a more conventional style of notation. The conductor can let the ensemble go about their business or at any point, assert a different set of choices into the equation. With “Preamble,” I wanted to strike a balance. I wanted the element of chance but not total chance. The performers can make certain choices for themselves, based on the watchful impulses of the conductor.”
The result is a composition that walks the line between chance and intention. The music impeccably makes full use of the capabilities of each instrument, exploring staccato attacks, fluid sustained tones,trills, scratches and filigree along the way. Harmony is present although abstracted, swaying between dissonance and consonance, but never too far in either direction, drifting in and out of alignment. The emotional tone of the piece cycles from somber to joyous, mysterious to frenetic, and back again. Punctuated by moments of suspended anxiety, “Preamble” finds balance in the cyclical capture and release of tension. Due to the unique nature of this notation, “Preamble” could be performed hundreds of times and no two outcomes would be alike, a quality of inventiveness and originality that makes Naqvi shine in the realm of modern composition. “Preamble” was recorded at the Church of the Advent of Hope in Manhattan, NY by the Contemporary Music Ensemble of NYU, under the direction of Jonathan Haas.