Der Lauf der Dinge

(The Way Things Go)
experiments in measuring time with musical instruments
for 16 musicians and conductor

flute (bass flute), oboe (Engl. h.), clarinet (bass), bassoon – trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba – percussion (1 performer), harp, piano, accordion – violin, viola, cello, double bass

I. Pulse 12′
II. Duration 10′
III. Gravitation 9′

In 1987 the Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss made the film Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go). This is an almost 40-minute chain of successive events, sort of “an accident in the lab” type: something burns, explodes, falls, breaks, flows, dissolves, melts, bursts. It’s like a crazy professor has built a mindless machine out of waste that does anything. There are no musical sounds in the film, but at the same time it is very musical, because all events in an incomprehensible way add up to a harmonious form, like a symphony without a single instrument. This is probably because very different physical and chemical processes do only one thing: they measure time.

I really love the Fischli and Weiss film. In my “Movement of Things” musical instruments appear as living metronomes or hourglasses: the length of the bow or string, the duration of the breath, the speed of repetition, the echo – everything has its own time, which I tried to release and show as a formative element. Music is generally about the flow and measurement of time; we do not notice it when time passes and is measured by our senses. And in the laboratory you can separate one from the other and see what happens. Or listen.

Premiere performance: eNsemble of The Pro Arte Foundation cond. by Fedor Lednev, video by Patrick K.-H. October 2015, Alexandrinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, “School of New Music” concert series. (Video courtesy of Alexandrinsky Theatre.)

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working score