Instrumentation: Oboe, Percussion, and Piano
Duration: 12 1/2 minutes
Year of Composition: 2016-17

About the work:

Ionobia continues my exploration into force dynamics in music. Force dynamics is originally a literary term. It theorizes that components in sentences have relationships based on influence. For instance, a sentence like "The wind pushed the ball across the grass" involves an agonist (the wind) that applies force against an antagonist (the ball). Important is that the natural state of the ball (resting) is changed by the force of the agonist. With literary examples, force dynamical relationships can get quite complex, moving into social and psychological factors of force. These are essentially metaphors of force. In music, it seems that only the simpler examples can be modeled. One can hear this immediately in the opening of the work wherein the percussion triggers the oboe to sound. It is like a light switch being turned on and off. Simultaneously, the piano ignores this relationship between the percussion and oboe. It co-exists with them, much like we co-exist with strangers who may be involved in heated discussions as we walk down the street. The problem with balls and light switches as models in composition, however, is that they have no agency. Here the human factor enters my music. While these simple force dynamic models found relationships between instruments, the instruments themselves (or the instrumentalists) have agency. The oboe is not just a victim of the percussionists control. It can respond to what it feels is abuse. It can talk back. It can go rouge. And from this agency the work evolves into subtle musical drama that propels the work forward.


Recording by Trio Surplus - Christian Kemper, oboe, Olaf Tzschoppe, percussion, and Daniel Lorenzo, piano.