Intern Corner: Ijereja
Daniel Taylor is working with Lauren Redhead on an internship project for Organ and Electronics.
‘Ijereja’, whose name itself is of fascinating origins, is a composition written by Lauren Redhead for Organ & Electronics. ‘ijereja’ isn’t necessarily a real word; it can almost be considered a found word, being a transliteration of the Linear B written word for ‘priestess’, Linear B being a syllabary from another language that was ‘borrowed’ to write down Ancient Greek. This alludes to a greater theme of discovery that seems to run through the piece, something that can be found in the process of the composition, performance and even the five-minute radio excerpt. “On the Linear B tablets, ‘priestess’ is the only mention of a woman who is not a slave or a servant” Redhead mentions, suggesting a reflection on the issues of gender in Mycenaean Greece and Modern day.
Alternative to the traditionally linear approach of writing a score (compose piece – create notated score – perform piece from score) the score instead provides a more vital role in the composition process, and was created first. “The first thing I was interested in was the idea of a score as a map so I started to make some maps. The map scores are made from a collage process. The other [scores] are made as concrete poems, with all the words taken from a text that I read in the first performance of the piece. The octopuses have come from over-drawing of octopuses on bronze-age vessels”. The lack of notation on the score mean the relationship between the music and the score becomes for fluid, which also reflects Redhead’s other inspirations for the piece “I was [also] interested in the idea of notation/language and performing/speaking and how these relationships could become more fluid. In particular I was looking at a particular bronze age language (Linear B) and its history and translations as a catalyst”. This more liberating relationship with the score means that it can be freely interpreted each performance, allowing “the piece to be composed organically, allowing lots of different performances, recordings and collaborations to happen along the way”.
Though it detracts from the ‘organic’ nature of the piece to record it and play it back, it important to do so for documentation and to be played back for demonstration when the piece cannot be performed. But it doesn’t mean that discovery and creativity cannot be used, as demonstrated in the process of creating the five-minute “radio edit” used for interviews and such.
Demonstrating in five minutes a piece that lasts longer than forty is a challenge. It can be tempting to simply cut a five minute chunk of the piece out and serve it like that, but as the piece is a sprawling, changing mass of musical and sonic intrigue (and for being given the liberty of artistic license) I decided that the radio edit should be the same, just on a much smaller scale.
I had been given a recording from the 10th of October in 2015 to work with. After removing any unwanted noise and clipping from the recording, I began by ruthlessly sifting through the piece, cutting and copying anything I believed to be integral. After this process I had ten minutes of material to work with. I first attempted to paste them together like some kind of showreel, but the result was severely disjointed, having no musical flow to it. So instead I resolved to compose a piece with the materials I already had.
I began with the beginning of the recording as the start of the piece, to creative a definitive relationship between the radio edit and the full version. I then went through a process of trial and error to find what I could make work. I took reasonably diverse sections and organised them next to each other with the intention of creating some dynamics across the piece, whilst slowly building up to a final crescendo. I often took percussive sounds and crescendo sections from the recording and re-purposed them as transition sounds, a technique more often found in dance music.