Pulau Dewata

Composer: Claude Vivier
for saxophone quartet (transcription : Walter Boudreau)

Pulau Dewata (Isle of the Gods in Balinese) was written after a journey to the Far-East which, in 1977, led Vivier as far as the Island of Bali. Dedicated to the Balinese, the work is described in the composer's own words as a « tribute of love for a wonderful people who taught me so much ». First written for the McGill percussion ensemble, Pulau Dewata does not include a specific instrumentation. This is pure four-part music which can be adapted to « any combination of instruments » following certain instructions determined before-hand by the composer. The work is a succession of nine melodies (comprising from 1 to 9 tones) utilizing modes and motifs reminiscent of those used by Balinese Gamelans. Although of a repetitive nature, the music develops slowly through the addition of notes to the melodies and by subtle rhythmic inventions of the melodic poles (gruppettos, embellishments, etc.). The work can be divided roughly into 4 large and distinct sections preceded by a short introduction (melody 1 on tone; B flat) and a « signature » characteristic of Balinese ensembles.

Walter Boudreau's arrangement of this work takes into account the dual nature of the melodies, that is, moments of tension and relaxation. Through the set of antiphonies between the high and low registers the principal of question and response (accent and inflections) is brought forward. Let us note, incidentally, that the use of vibrato was systematically avoided so that the intervals and their interactions could be perceived more clearly; in this way, all the « resulting » sounds (natural and artificial harmonics) produced by the friction between the intervals are clearly and distinctly perceptible.