Dvandva

Instrumentation Violoncello and harp

Timing 36′ in nine movements

Composed 2017

Commissioned by COULOIR with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts

World Premiere TBA. COULOIR (Ariel Barnes, violoncello, and Heidi Krutzen, harp)

Programme Notes

Inspiration and Expiration
Thought and Desire
Gods and Demons
Moon and Stars
Past and Future
Moon and Sun
Gods and Humans
Knowledge and Action
Hymns and Praises

Dvandva is a Sanskrit term derived from dva (“two”), and refers to a word comprised of two other words, each equally important or of equal value, which in English would be joined by the word and. For example, in Sanskrit and Hindi the words for “mother” and “father” can be combined into one word meaning “mother and father” (i.e. “parents”). Japanese has a single word combining “heaven” and “earth” to mean “heaven and earth” and Greek combines “fork” and “knife” into one word for “cutlery” (literally “fork and knife”).

When COULOIR (harpist Heidi Krutzen and cellist Ariel Barnes) invited me to write a major work for them and we began talking about inspiration, I realised that a performing duo is a dvandva: two players of equal importance, each a fantastic musician individually, yet becoming a new entity when joined by an and.

After reading a lot about Sanskrit grammar and compiling a long list of dvandvas, I selected nine and structured the piece as alternating duos and solos in complementary pairs reflected around the central Past and Future. Each movement springs from its Sanskrit dvandva, spoken by the performers. The first movement Inspiration and Expiration is balanced by the final movement Hymns and Praises. The second movement, Thought and Desire for solo harp, is reinterpreted by the second-last movement, Knowledge and Action for solo cello. The third movement duo Gods and Demons is answered by the seventh, Gods and Humans. The sparkling cello solo Moon and Stars is mirrored by the harp’s orbiting dance of Moon and Sun. As well, musical material and effects in one instrument are often recast in the “other” instrument, such as pitch-bending and glissandos, which can be played by both cello and harp, yet sound unique to each.

Dvandva was commissioned by COULOIR with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, and is dedicated to Heidi Krutzen and Ariel Barnes.

PDF score excerpt

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