Diana Soh – iota

It is interesting for me, not only to listen in a concert but also to observe the movements and gestural communications between the performers.

I am interested not only in imagining the sonic possibilities of the musical material and its progression, but also in the dramaturgy of the eventual physical performance and how the material might be personified by the instrumentalist. Needless to say, theatricality – but only as a sonic necessity – is of much importance to my music.

For me, composition is a way to have new exciting experiences, and to keep learning about music (and to make sense of our world). Working as a composer needs to be emotionally engaging, intellectually stimulating, and a constant learning process. It is in this spirit that I constantly seek out different ways of composing, of engaging with the material and of working with different ensembles, and also of exploring different disciplines like film and interactive video that use sound in a different way.

In this particular piece iota for Klangforum Wien, I wanted to build rich and constant changes in timbre using small attacks at the starting point; to use the combination of instruments to create a composite rhythmic and melodic line.
I also wanted a work that has a clear pulse/ groove as one of its characteristics.
The idea is to use the smallest “insignificant” details and to create a larger global richness. The melodic lines are often short and split between different instruments and making sense of it all requires taking in the global sound of the entire ensemble. (Klangfarbenmelodie, if you must.)

In Chinese characters, each stroke itself encompasses the energy and movement stemming from the physical act of writing. So depending on its combination, we get a graphical symbol (a character) from which we can now derive its connotation and very often its meaning.
Linguistically, the combination of characters sometimes then changes the significance of the characters itself to create contextual meaning.
Eg. the chinese name for the smallest calligraphic stroke (点diǎn), in combination with other characters it could mean
illuminate – (点亮) diǎn liàng highlight – (亮点) liàng diǎn origin – (原点) yuán diǎn destination – (终点) zhōng diǎn
I find all the ideas of “insignificant” details and things used in combination to build a strong and larger global richness to be uplifting and beautiful, especially in the state of affairs of the world today.

It is in this spirit that I started writing iota.
(Diana Soh, 2016)