Light-music instrument



History of musical culture of XX th century knows dozens examples of inclusion of special score for colour light into musical piece score by composers themselves (Scriabin's "Prometheus", A.Schoenbergs "Die gluckliche Hand", etc.).

One of such pieces is S.Gubaidullina's "Alliluia". Gubaidulina is our compatriot living now in Germany. The piece is seven parts cicle for mixed chorus, symphonic orchestra, organ, discant-solo and color part "Farbe". The first color-musical performance of Alliluia, created in 1990, took place in New York in 1994. All other Alliluia concert performances did not include colour part (this being assumed by author, in principle).

The concept of ligth-musical synthesis developed by Gubaidulina is based, strange as it may seem, on scientific data from physics of light, though being interpreted artistically. The composer's attention was attracted to the fact that a color is the result of spliting of white light. While contacting a surface some colours of white light spectrum are absorbed and other are reflected. Basing herself on the fact, the composer considers process of forming of each colour as "selfsacrifice" of white colour. Ascribing colours different levels of such "selfsacrifice", Gubaidulina allots each colour special symbolic charater. Emeregence of colours, their sequence and interaction is controled by the ideological and phylosophic program of the piece implied by the author. In this connection Alliluia may be considered to be "color-musical drama", with colour part as one of its "plot directions" and colours as its "characters".

The first Russian light-musical performance of Alliluia with colours (using phonogram) took part in Kazan, in "Prometei" Institute studio in the course of international conference "Electronics, musics, light" devoted to L.Theremin, on 11 of December, 1996. The electronic device "Prometei-3" was used as light instrument, featuring technical characteristics for displaying and controling colours on large screen (2.5x2.5 m). The light part was performed by the author of the paper. The composer's version of final colour part of the piece was experimentally supplemented with moving abstract shapes and specially selected slides with Russian icons. Judging on spectators opinion it was this performance episode that turned out to be most impressive (see colour plate).

The second performance took place in the same studio in the course of international festival "Europe-Asia" on 28 of March, 1998 featured the combination of light part with demonstration of videorecording of one Alliluia concerte preformances. The videorecording was reproduced on the large-screen TV set placed close to the bottom edge of the screen used for displaying light part. The illusion of presence of "live" performers achieved by such means made the performance more interesting and convenient for perception.

The author of performance hopes that upon its demonstration to Gubaidulina it becomes possible to convince her to commit light part "revision" to director this making possible creation of more complex version of light-musical performance by collective efforts of artistic group of "Prometei" Institute. First experiments with "Farbe" string proved the soundness of the opinion that composers (musicians) themselves are not able to master specifics of visual stuff for all the profundity of the synthetic conception, this being one more corroboration of basic "Prometheus" idea: light-music, along with cinematographe, TV, is collective creativity art....

Published in "Leonardo", v.34, 2001, N4, pp.317, 353-354