René Mense




Study I: Schattenriss (Silhouette) (2005)
for organ, 6'

Sheet Music Sample (PDF)

The piece has a very serious, I’d like to almost say obsessive, character which goes straight back to the compositional techniques I’ve applied. To be succinct, these are twofold:

The study is an isorhythmic composition. Isorhythm is a technique that dates from the early 14th Century in which a specific long series of note durations is repeated any number of times. All five voices of my study are repeated this way four times.

One of the many ways to order the distances between tones (intervals) of the basic twelve note scale is to differentiate between the so-called large and small intervals. Three intervals, the fourth, the tritone (three whole tones) and the fifth only appear in “pure” form. All others, namely, the second, third, sixth and seventh occur, as previously noted, in two forms.

Starting from here, I determined beforehand that in the study, only the large intervals and the above-mentioned three pure ones may be used melodically as well as harmonically. The result is an extremely narrow ensemble of tone degrees and sounds and, certainly also, the sensation of a certain compactness. My next task, then, was to find a way to integrate the excluded intervals as well.

Since I believe, however, that it is not good composing to replace one arbitrariness (in this case, the choice of intervals to be used) with another, it follows that incorporating the excluded intervals directly should also not be allowed. Indirectly, though, I could do this by substituting some of the notes in the last repetition of the main row with rests. This gain in time necessarily led to an expansion of possible notes, for the harmonic environment had changed so much with the rests that I could also set the excluded tones without violating the rules that I had constructed. 

Silhouette – The notes set according to the rules cast a kind of sound shadow wherein that which is excluded manifests itself. This is what caught my attention.

< back






Legal notice | Photography by Susanne E. Fraatz | English Translation by Laurie Schwartz | Design by Frank Ralf