In focus

Eduardo Luís Patriarca


Questionnaire/ Interview

Part 1 · Roots & Education

How did music begin for you and where do you identify your music roots? What are the paths that led you to composition?

Eduardo Luís Patriarca: I don’t have direct music roots. Although being connected with different artistic areas, my family didn’t have strong music aspirations.
My kindergarten was situated at the Nossa Senhora da Esperança College in Porto, which organised music classes, so one day I asked my mother to have piano lessons there. I could have been more or less three or four years old at the time.
Composition came quite naturally. Once I had a piano, my need to explore it became stronger than to perform the regular repertoire. I followed this direction creating short songs, up to a first experience for piano and “tape”. The certainties and convictions came later, at the age of thirteen or fourteen, when I was António Pinho Vargas’ and later Jorge Peixinho’s student.

Which moments from your music education do you find the most important?

EP: All the moments of sheer music education were of great importance. Many of them actually happened outside the classrooms. There are diverse conversations “over coffee” that have been more noteworthy than the entire lessons, and at many times they’ve involved the same people. Others have been the auditions of determined works and the impact that they’ve caused.
I remember exceptional lessons with Cândido Lima, normally quite specific on a determined subject, for example when he introduced me to Tristan Murail’s and Gérard Grisey’s music, or to Luigi Nono’s string quartet. Similarly, at a completely “outsider” class, Álvaro Salazar gathered composition students to talk about György Ligeti.
I must confess that if his music had already fascinated me before, there I was led to maximum perception and understanding. Likewise, some classes with Christopher Bochmann were fundamental when it comes to the analysis and understanding of determined works.
I have also been particularly marked by the audition of “The Rite of Spring”. It has changed my whole perception of music, just as, thanks to Fernando C. Lapa, Bela Bartók’s “String Quartets” and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Gesang der Jünglinge” did.
I have never considered the academic structures as a fundamental factor for my music education.
However, at the age of fourteen during my ninth school year, the first contact with António Pinho Vargas and then at the age of nineteen with Jorge Peixinho, turned out to be fundamental elements within my choices as composer. Later, the seminars with Emmanuel Nunes at the Gulbenkian Foundation, particularly the first one with the analysis of “Quodlibet” (1990-91), “Minnesang” (1975-76) and “Einspielung I” (1979), marked certain changes of perspective, fundamental for my writing.

Part 2 · Influences & Aesthetics

Which references are present in your compositional practice? Which works from the history of music and the present time have been the most important to you?

EP: My music includes the references from all the music that I’ve heard. Some of them are more obvious than the other ones. In this sense, medieval works share the space with some lighter aspects of the 20the century, either in diverse ways or in different aspects of my process; passing obviously through the works from the repertoire.
I think that the references change at every moment due to the aspects with a determined importance. The role that each and every reference has in the creative process isn’t constant. As I’ve already mentioned, “The Rite of Spring” was the work that marked me the most and whose role was fundamental in my stylistic development. However, during the years other works have had equally important roles. Regarding the works from the past… various chansons by Josquin de Près, the “5 th Book of Madrigals” by Claudio Monteverdi, the “Notre-Dame Mass” by Guillaume de Machaut, Ludwig van Beethoven’s “8th Symphony”, Franz Liszt’s “Années de pèlerinage”, almost the whole work by Erik Satie, Claude Debussy’s “Péleas et Mélisande”, with a great opening of perception – “Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta ” by Bela Bartók, … etc.
In a certain time, there were various works by John Cage, between the strictly musical ones and the texts. I can also mention the discovery of Giacinto Scelsi and of oriental composers, such as Tōru Takemitsu or Liao Lin-Ni. Yet, there are four works which are undoubtedly fundamental: “CDE” (1970) by Jorge Peixinho, “L’amour de loin” by Kaija Saariaho, “L’Esprit des dunes” by Tristan Murail and “Vortex Temporum” by Gérard Grisey.

The dichotomy occupation – vocation can define the composers’ artistic/ professional approach. Where on the scale between the emotional (inspiration and vocation) and the pragmatic/ rational (calculation and occupation) do you find your way of working and your stance as composer?

EP: As always it depends on the works and the time to which they belong. My work has already been entirely “calculation and occupation”. Then, I’ve been passing more and more to the emotional side, although keeping the global ideas of the latter approach.
My first pieces were truly emotional. They set out from improvisation and a personal taste, consequence of my auditions and emotional references. Little by little the technique and the need to create structures and fixed ideas took me to processes based on calculation, either within the formal organisation or the employed techniques. I’ve never been keen adept of serialism, but I ‘ve already passed through it. Some works from the 1989 and 1990 can serve as examples and particularly the “5 Pieces for Piano” from 1990. Yet still, even here I felt the need of an emotional involvement when it comes to the timbral aspect.
What followed was the process entirely based on calculation. I believe that it has been important, allowing me to create significant works. However, I felt, and continue to feel when listening to these works, that they lack the merely artistic side. Their rigour hasn’t always made me feel satisfied.
Nowadays, there are definitely three fundamental elements in my creative process: the aesthetic side, the technical one and the sensorial one. These three sides are complementary allowing for a more meticulous approach, integrating emotional and calculative situations. They are merged together, and none of them has a dominating relevance.
Presently, I’m not able to make a distinction between occupation and vocation. I believe that nobody creates solemnly within one of these approaches. I’ve always composed out of a personal need, to which an occupational one has been joined. Obviously, a commissioned work involves determined characteristics and obligations, but I need to have the freedom of creating in accordance with my intentions. Making music in order to entertain someone’s interests and ideas, doesn’t interest me at all. Even when writing for theatre or cinema, or for other specific situations, I don’t abandon my vocational ideals. If I was to write something differently, in order to fit in these situations, I wouldn’t do it. Full stop.

Are there any extra-musical sources, which significantly influence your work?

EP: There are various sources. Frequently, I refer to my work as meditations on fractals and spectrums. I think it quite fairly summarises this question. The factors distinguishing my work, which are involved in the technical and creative processes, derive from the Buddhist inspiration, from the meditations and attitudes in the Zen philosophy. I also use fractals, both at a mathematical and merely poetic level.
In practice, one can also answer here partially to the previous question. Three elements are joined in defining the fractal and spectral meditations – the aesthetic one (spectralism/ spectrum), the technical one (fractals/ spectral process/ patterns/ cycles and polycycles) and the sensory one (meditation/ Buddhist approach/ unified sound/ repetition). The relation between the three parts and the quantity of common elements, seem quite obvious to me.
These three elements are joined with other diverse elements, which can be the base-cell/ embryo of my writing as a whole. Here one can find fractals in the harmonic and inharmonic spectrums; the spectral development of a sound in a Buddhist mantra; the repetition of the mantra in the fractals. The different dimensions of each of these plans stand out within themselves – the fractals are the repetition of themselves in different proportions, the different proportions of the same sound constitute the spectrum, the mantra is the proportional extension of the same element. Simultaneously, they create depth, rhythm, harmony, melody, structure, different dimensions of the same element, various elements in the same dimension.

In the context of western art music do you feel close to any school or aesthetics from the past or present?

EP: I feel connection with the spectral school, because of the emotional relation with some of its works, and with the great part of its aesthetic guidelines; and not at the deepest level of the original foundation of the spectral “school”, but in the final results. What interests me is the manipulation of sound per se, transforming it in the unique and exclusive element of creation, and defining the determined processes for the harmonic and formal structure.
That is why probably the post-spectral approach of Kaija Saariaho and Philippe Hurel, as well as Gérard Grisey’s last works have influenced me aesthetically more than the “music-treatises” such as “Les Espaces Acoustiques” or “Mémoire/ Érosion”.

Are there any influences of non-western cultures in your music?

EP: Oriental culture and more specifically the Buddhist reflection as well as Zen and even Taoist philosophy. Here I can mention works such as “Xiaoling para David” (2013), “Haikus para Morgana” (2013), “Ensō” (2011), the “Mayahana” cycle (“Zazen” [2011], “Kado” [2015] and “Kōdō” [2020]), whose specific titles have oriental relations; as well as other works, such as “We are all made of stardust” (2017), “What the little bird told her” (2019), “people have no idea how beautiful the darkness is” (2020), “Brief für Teresa” (2020), which keep the same line of thought, but through a poetic approach and without an immediately perceptible connection to this relation.

Part 3 · Language & Compositional Practice

How can you characterise your music language when taking into account the techniques developed in composition in the 20th and 21st centuries? Do you have any music genre or style of preference?

EP: My language is a mixture of influences, although mostly based on spectral techniques. I’ve never encountered an aesthetics that alone would define my approach, what I think is indeed common to everyone. Usually a given aesthetics is a result of someone’s needs, which by nature aren’t exactly mine. We’ll have points of convergence, but also enough differences in order not to fall into the same stylistic premises. I understand the aesthetics of a determined group as a musicological exercise, a form of fitting various elements into a unique one.
We have preferences and affinities, but also enough divergences in order not to belong to an exclusive group, what indeed presently seems to me a quite common path.

Could you describe the process behind your compositional practice? Do you compose from an embryo-idea or after having elaborated the global form?

EP: I always begin with the title. This is the embryo-idea, the concept, the claim for information and transmission. It serves for indicating both structural and dramatic paths. However, every moment is a specific case implying different ways of working. There’s a constant element in the organisation of the form, an aspect which particularly concerns me – the concept of return and support.
The sound, its essence as structure will always be the base of the piece, even if it’s accompanied by a text, or merely by the harmonic element derived from this sound, by an image associated to the sound or somehow complementing it. Afterwards, the other elements emerge together with the consequent manipulations. These determine the global formal structure and thus they begin to be truly elaborated. Rarely is the initial scheme maintained faithfully. There are almost always adaptations derived from the manipulations on the diverse elements. Actually, all the structures end up being embryonic, since the systematic relations between them determine the possible developments.
The form manages the elements as well as their transformations and these ones, when manipulated, generate the formal elements.

In the context of your compositional practice how could you define the connection (or opposition) between the calculation/ reasoning/ scientific processes (for example connected with acoustic phenomena) and the approach which has more connection with emotions (the so-called “creative impulses”)?

EP: All the elements are fundamental. Obviously, there are some techniques which determine the unravelling of the structures, or which at least appear with sufficient frequency to become determining in the discourse. Nevertheless the “creative impulses” serve to move forward with the merely technical aspects.
Frequently, I use the idea of cycles and their superposition. These end up having a very structured and calculated line of thought, and many times they can be the base element upon which other ones will be developed. And they are, yes, much more emotional and derived from particular fundamental moments, as second plan results of what´s occurring. Which of these elements gains more importance? It depends on various aspects. For example, in “Ensō” (2011), the creation of different overlapping cycles generates other cycles within these superimpositions. These ones emerge separately from the initial calculation, from the previous ones, gaining an independent role, working more freely and closely to a sensorial intention. They adapt to the calculation and simultaneously abandon the sensation of structural rigour.

How do you relate with the new technologies and how do they influence your way of composing and your music language?

EP: I use new technologies quite irregularly. At times, I have had more need to use them, at others less. For example, within a work with electronics their role can be modified throughout the process of writing. I have already used electronics in different formats, nowadays appreciating more and more the role of live electronics. Initially I used more the “tape” format, either continuous or divided throughout the execution.
At a certain time, I resorted to programmes such as Open Music, to help myself in manipulating the material, more as a way of saving time than to create new elements; just as I still use manipulation tools which some notation programmes provide. These practices are exclusively processes, of organisation, transformation, which in another way would be carried out manually, including everything that it involves – mistakes, a lot of time spent on writing. These materials actually end up being used later and by means of other decisions, frequently, a great part of them is eventually discarded.
I don’t understand the need, for example, to use a software to determine the different parameters, or to think that a notation programme supports creation. I think that these programmes serve only one purpose which is notation! Helping to write a legible score, allowing for creating the parts and an appreciable format for the performer, which at times the manuscript doesn’t provide (without discarding the situations where the manuscript is perfectly sufficient). When it comes to creating an algorithm, this one is the composer’s process and it requires a software so that generating and manipulating it would make sense. If one hopes for the programme to create the algorithm and to present the situations, it won’t do it.
The development, the material and the idea of my works’ final result are normally well structured. In this sense the use of computer tools constitutes yet another element adapted to the final result and not on the contrary. Just as in any other case the electronics tunes in with the creative process, having the same role as the analogue tools, generating similar situations, and determining formal structures or paths in the development of the composition.
The digital tool influencing more my material or structures, is the spectral analysis. Frequently, it constitutes the initial step for composition.

What’s the importance of spatial and timbral aspects in your music?

EP: During the 1990s working with spatialization was in a certain way a recurrent need in my practice and research. Later it moved to the second plan, occurring exclusively within my present work with electronics.
For the spatialization to gain importance, the acoustic instruments were becoming more and more difficult to manage. There are always difficulties either when it comes to space or the correct realisation. The electronics as such allows me to do it instrumentally and without bigger problems, simply supporting the notion of polycycle.
Yet it doesn’t mean that I don’t return there from time to time. “MIT [Memórias internas em movimentos e texturas]” (2018), for six percussionists, live electronics and “tape”, lives precisely from the spatialization, location and timbral groups. The audience is in the centre, experiencing something which is impossible to repeat in recording. This work has been composed for a determined space, so is it possible to repeat the created sensation in another one? Certainly, it isn’t repeatable in the places where the audience can’t be in the centre of the performance.
The timbre, particularly with respect to spectralism, is fundamental in my music. The sometimes quite subtle timbral differences between spectral analyses of the same frequency with diverse origins, are the base of my harmonic manipulations, creating cohesive or contrasting harmonic fields, consequently structuring the music material. For example, in the cycle “Rituals” (2015) the pieces 1 to 3 use the same basic elements, when it comes to the electronics and generative frequencies. Yet the analysis within every instant of the superimposition of these frequencies produced by the instrument together with the electronics, creates the melodic and harmonic structures. This transforms completely each of the pieces, the relation between each one of them, as well as their relationship with the electronics.

What is the importance of experimentation in your music?

EP: Just like spatialization, in my case experimentation has occurred more within a didactic contexts, than in the context of the intrinsic need to use it.
Obviously, there’s always a certain dose of experimentalism; there are always new processes and less common resources, characterising each and every piece in my catalogue. They serve essentially to manipulate the controlled parameters. However, it isn’t an aspect which I discard. There are various ideas of unconventional use of instruments, for example; but as always, it is only in the course of the creative process that they gain, or not, sufficient importance in order to be applied.

Which works do you consider turning points in your career?

EP: During the years we create empathy with different works and give dissimilar importance to each one of them. Nevertheless, there are some, which through their origin gain a life of their own in defining our aesthetics.
Some of them remain isolated during some time with this role, other rapidly give in or occupy space with the others. The first important point was “Self” for piano and electronics from 2004, precisely in the determination of the cycles and the different superimpositions. Later in successive years: 2011 – “Ensō” for orchestra; 2012 – “Processione” for string quartet; 2013 – “Canções de Lemúria” for voice and piano; and 2014 – “A propos d’un son” for viola and electronics. These works culminated in important turnarounds. Although they are quite different from each other when it comes to the essential points of perception, they have and combine techniques and aesthetics. I think that the last one accumulates the developments that every previous one brought, thus establishing a specific level. Other pieces, sometimes satellites of these ones, take on the same techniques, not developing them, but merely using them; thence their lack of power to constitute a turning point.
Naturally, to date, other turning points have occurred – “We are all made of stardust” (2017), for example, has opened the door, not only when it comes to the thought but also the technique, for works such as “people have no idea how beautiful darkness is” (2020), “Brief für Teresa” (2020) or “Kōdō” (2020). In its turn, “people have no idea how beautiful darkness is” has opened the door to other ideas, reformulating works which are still being created, implying a new and different approach in the material’s consequences.
As I’ve mentioned, there are different empathies with one’s own production. There are continuous elements formulated in one works passing to other ones, which increase and consolidate the technical and sensorial collection of reflection and a specific way of transmitting it.

Part 4 · Portuguese Music

What do you think of the present situation of Portuguese music? What distinguishes Portuguese music on the international panorama?

EP: On the one hand we are growing, having various young composers whose works can be heard on different occasions. We have young performers more and more interested in Portuguese music, and the structures to defend, publish and promote our music. However, … we have lost almost the whole institutional support, and the little that is given only spoils the pleasure. Unfortunately, the people with honest artistic interests who could work in these institutions don’t get along with financial interests, and, likewise, the latter ones don’t align with the former ones.
We always bring up the crisis and what happens to the support for culture during these difficult phases. However, what we often forget is that presently the major crisis has to do with values, and this one is combined with the adverse financial situation. There’s no such thing as lack of support, which is simply distributed in an extremely bad way. We, artists, aren’t seen as financial resources, such as exchanging currencies. Generally, the less one is made to think, the better.
In consequence and since the support is null, the role of the young generations that make our situation better will be taken away quite easily from them. What’s valuable is the determination and resistance that they have. It doesn’t seem to me that internationally we distinguish ourselves for the better or worse. We have exactly the same competences as any other foreign musician. That is what globalisation is about. The access is equal.
Eventually we have a different necessity resulting from years of dead end and without access to anything. Yet it has been at least partially overcome. It seems to me that yes, what makes us different are the institutions, and frequently the Portuguese ones. Normally, we praise what comes from the outside and we forget about what is here, even though it possesses equal value. It’s not a new or recent reality, what makes it even worse inside. However, Portuguese music is already heard outside quite regularly what some years ago wouldn’t be expectable. Hugo Vasco Reis, Igor C. Silva or Nuno Lobo, among other composers, frequently have their works performed outside, marking a path which can become broader and of major interest, even when it comes to creating support. I must confess that it’s strange to me not to have a single Portuguese composer as residing composer at the Casa da Música, with the exception of Emmanuel Nunes and various young composers in residence. They’ve been once young and aren’t anymore. There are also others who are not young anymore, some of them true Portuguese music giants, who continue to pass aside this reality. I’m not talking about the performance of their works at the Institution. There, one or other commission is made, or an outward wish takes the works by these composers to Casa da Música. I’m talking about assuming Portuguese names as fundamental figures of a Casa da Música season, about organising there a Portuguese year.

Is there any transversal aspect in Portuguese contemporary music?

EP: I think there’s no such aspect. Although there are, naturally, some aesthetic confluences, it seems to me that they don’t create schools or aesthetic niches. It’s inevitable that having a major access to the information on the composition by others, one creates affinities, and one uses elements and techniques discovered in other composers. It happens between Portuguese composers, equally as it obviously does when listening to the music by the foreign ones. As I initially said, everyone has distinct needs and consequently the appropriation of determined technical elements and sometimes sonic results, gains strength and distinct paths. Here I can quote two specific situations, one older, when a commission was made to me, Telmo Marques and Paulo Ferreira-Lopes. It was based on the use of Portuguese popular tradition, having given origin to three completely different works. The other situation is more recent, when, in the context of my 50th anniversary, the Hodiernus Ensemble commissioned to different composers works which would use my material or which would have a connection with my production. The young composers, Rúben Borges with the piece “Haiku” and Solange Azevedo with “Stardust Dissolution”, have respectively approached “Haikus para Morgana” and “We are all made of stardust”. Without creating copies, they’ve made the materials their own. Obviously, it’s possible to find common points and auditory references, yet the solutions for every element are distinct.

How could you define the composers’ role nowadays?

EP: I think that the role hasn’t changed. What’s actually changed, are the interests. The composer continues to write about what he or she feels and perceives, releasing ideas in his/ her own understanding, raising questions in the domain of perception – each one in a more or less particular manner. What’s also changed, are the needs between what’s written and what one intends to write, what are the inherent functions of writing.
However, the composer continues to have the role which is equal for any creator and artist – to keep transforming Art in all its aspects, simultaneously soothing and challenging the ideas and habits. This role needs to have room for raising questions, discussing them, being an active intervener, since passivity – that is letting oneself settle – is easy to reach.

According to your experience what are the differences between the music environment in Portugal and in other parts of the world?

EP: My last contacts with foreign composers and performers make me realise that there aren’t great differences. There are always the sons of the State and the bastards. In the case of the former ones, as I have already mentioned, the more they represent the political and economic interests the more support they get, while the latter ones just keep on begging.
In this respect, in France an original structure has been created, Tempóra. I’m its member and it serves precisely to support, within its possibilities, the musicians who don’t belong to the great centres. I remember that one of the complaints has had to do with the differentiation between Paris and the rest of the cities (the structure’s headquarters are in Bordeaux). And even the Parisians complain on the way the support’s distributed.
Presently, this structure joins musicians with the same problems from all over the world.
The value crisis is global; it isn’t specific to this or that country. The truth is that the economic power has also dominated and imposed on culture.

Part 5 · Present & Future

What are your current and future projects? Could you highlight one of your more recent works, presenting the context of its creation as well as the singularity of its language and the used techniques?

EP: Presently, I would highlight two works, starting, perhaps with the most recent one – “people have no idea how beautiful darkness is”. The piece has originated from a commission by the Hodiernus Enseble (flute, saxophone, violin, cello and percussion). It is connected with other three commissions to Rúben Borges, Solange Azevedo and Gonçalo Gato, who have been asked to use my materials or any other connection with my work.
This piece uses different contexts of the darkness concept – either the ones concerning the transformation of darkness into light, or different palettes of darkness itself. It lives from constant manipulations of extremely short melodic formulas, which are developed either with similar intervals or distinct gradations of the same intervals. The instrumental part is accompanied by live electronics and “tape”. The pre-recorded elements come from the narration of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Raven” by James Earl Jones. From the poem I’ve taken phrases or even single words, emphasised in the construction. The spectral analysis of the different repetitions of the word “nevermore”, in its varied derivations, gives origin to melodic transformations and harmonic organisations. The piece’s fractal plan coincides with various other works of mine, determining the structure, the plans of repetition, as well as of cyclical construction and overlapping. In certain aspects the harmonic development reminds me of “Treize Couleurs du Soleil Couchant” by Tristan Murail, insofar as every aggregate is transformed from the inside, creating and recreating extremely close sonic textures, yet sufficiently distinct in order to be perceived as differentiated harmonies, conciliating or opposing the melodic development. A lot in this process is accompanied by the live electronics, which accentuates and simultaneously consumes every harmonic element. This process derived from “Brief für Teresa”, acts as a “strange attractor” (a double reference to Tristan Murail and the fractals), which allows for derivations from an irregular spiral, full of detours. Symbolically the beauty of darkness remits to Buddhist ideas of path, contemplation and meditation.
Equally I give emphasis to “Kōdō” for suspended cymbal, incense and live electronics. Although it seems like it, the piece doesn’t include any scenic or incidental elements in the strict sense. “Kōdō” is the third piece of the 5-part cycle “Mayahana” (with two still to be finished…), having been preceded with “Zazen” and “Kado”. All these pieces are for percussion and electronics, being “Kado” the one with the more traditional instrumentation – marimba, temple blocks and electronics. The pieces are dedicated to their performers (who in a certain way are also responsible for their existence) and to a composer generationally close to the performer and who I particularly admire. In this sense, to date, “Zazen” is dedicated to Nuno Aroso and to Luís Antunes Pena and “Kado” to Jorge Lima and Igor C. Silva. “Kōdō” is dedicated to Nuno Aroso and Liao Lin-Ni.
This piece is constructed upon three cycles connected with the Buddhist essence, which are overlapped and have formal and structural continuity. They superimpose in polycycles, which in this case also determine timbral transformations, variating in the use of electronics, having the same function as the one already described, with the addition of space and depth. They equally vary in the use of different forms of performance. The incense, a sensorial element, appeals to the senses, to the sensation of physical distancing. It plays a fundamental role in the work’s final as a performance material, creating a timbral element which is completely different from the others. “Kōdō” (香道) means precisely the path or the ceremony of the incense, constituting one of the moments of the tea ceremony in Buddhist-Zen meditation. Actually, the work lives from a unique element superimposed on itself in different proportions (fractals), being sequentially repeated in continuous transformation, starting as a major timbral definition with attacks, until getting rid of these elements as specific parameters.
There are various new projects on which I’m presently working, such as “Omkara” for horn and electronics (written for Hugo Freitas), “Samantha” for flute and electronics (for Natalia Jarząbek), “Waterstones” for soprano (percussion), electronics and lighting (for Marina Pacheco), “Passio Iesu” for bass, vocal quartet, “tape”, live electronics, fixed and live video (for Bruno Pereira), apart from sketches and ideas to finish the “Mayahana” cycle.

How do you see the future of Art music?

EP: Art continues to have the same role. And music continues to share with the rest of the arts the ideological and social functions of the time where it belongs. History determines this role, what doesn’t cease to worry me, since the values are lower and lower, and the needs accompany this tendency.
We are in a moment where everyone believes to deserve the limelight in any area. One sings because one wants to be a singer, and actually this pop phenomenon has dozens of followers. People appear and disappear with an incredible velocity, and they don’t leave any trace…
Curiously other arts such as literature, painting, dance or acting (in the most diverse aspects) took their stance in the domain of contemporaneity, with new visions of the classics and the change of their patterns. Nonetheless, the main “actors” of these arts move away art music from the present. Frequently, one resorts to the classical works form the past to accompany the interventions of the present. Recurrently one questions the contemporary music creation, referring to the absence of “harmony” and “melody”. It seems to me that we, composers, don’t defend it sufficiently. The metric, harmonic and melodic patterns of a Camões poem don’t exist in a poem by Valter Hugo Mãe. There are transformations of the process; there’s evolution of the language in the adaptation to the time where it is inserted. One discusses and assumes the validity of less daring texts. Obviously, there’s also commercial literature but it doesn’t obscure art literature, whereas contemporary art music is completely obliterated by the amalgam of existing commercialisation; and as I said, with the support of the rest of the arts.
On the other hand, there are more and more attempts to transform the ideas and prejudices either through changing the patterns, through a closer connection with the current interests, or through opening the writing. There are more performers interested in recent music creation, there’s more dissemination, interaction and exchange. Contemporaneity in Art music is more and more present. It’s becoming more and more acknowledged, thanks to the effort of various entities, who at their own cost and pulse do the work which should be in the domain of a real cultural politics. Thus, what some years behind seemed to me as a dead-end path, today starts opening with ways out. I want to think that Art music will increasingly gain its space and definition.

Eduardo Luís Patriarca, July 2015 – April 2020
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