Diamond Sutra Vexations

brennanoonan on December 15, 2012 17:33

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    Brenna Noonan, soprano saxophone
    Performed at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, 12/9/12

    As a saxophonist, the thought of writing a piece for saxophone (and therefore myself) was an intimidating one. I felt too close to the instrument, and was concerned that what I wrote would end up being self-serving and too devised in performance. “Diamond Sutra Vexations” is my attempt to overcome this hindrance. I wrote this piece at a time where I was immersed in deep study of the great microtonal composer Giacinto Scelsi and the Buddhist text The Diamond Sutra. Interestingly, these two subjects of study proved to almost perfectly at odds with each other. Scelsi’s works often have only one note as the focal point, and the rest of the material merely revolves around that pitch. The Diamond Sutra, however, is a text primarily about impermanence that champions non-attachment. These two warring perceptions were both very much active in my psyche during the composition of “Diamond Sutra Vexations.” The basic note of the work is a concert A. The piece reflects my own struggles with embracing these two life views as the music constantly tries to attach itself and resolve to the pitch A, while other pitches orbit around it in magnetic field tension.

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