Ukukhalisa Umrhubhe for umrhubhe and tape (2013)

Dedicated to Joséphine Markovits and Mantombi Matotiyana
Commissioned by Festival d’Automne d’Paris

Première

First performance: Saturday 19 October 2013, 20h00; France; Mantombi Matotiyana umrhubhe, Christophe Mazzella sound diffusionperformance details.

Programme note

Having curated “The Bow Project” (2002-2010) in which composers wrote paraphrases for a classical Western ensemble in response to the uhadi songs of Nofinishi Dywili, I wanted to compose an overtone piece for umrhubhe and tape in which the bow player actively takes part. I immediately faced two exciting challenges: traditional bow players don’t read any form of notation, and their performing practice operates almost exclusively within the musical scope of that tradition.

The multi-layered tape part uses recordings of pieces from Mantombi Matotiyana’s traditional repertoire, both the instrumental and vocal versions, unprocessed as well as electronically manipulated. The solo part is given to the performer in the form of audio recordings of models, with which she can respond to the pre-recorded tape, itself varied from one performance to the next. In this respect my model was one of the great overtone compositions of the 20th century, Stockhausen’s Stimmung.

Ukukhalisa Umrhubhe, meaning ‘to play the umrhubhe’ or literally ‘to make the umrhubhe cry’, was commissioned by Festival d’Automne à Paris and composed between January and August 2013 in Stellenbosch, Visby and Balledent. It lasts about 16 minutes.

The tape was made in the Studio of the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Mantombi Matotiyana’s participation was made possible with funding from DOMUS, University of Stellenbosch.