Description: Babel is a work for rock ‘n’ roll band (two electric guitars, electric bass, drum set), four soprano singers, and a twenty-one instrument mixed chamber ensemble. The 50-minute composition is based on the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11:1-9, and the four-movement structure is derived from the form of this narrative. The first movement, “building rebellion,” establishes man’s intent to build a grand city and tower in a rebellion against God, while the second movement, “seeing/coming down,” describes the all-seeing God’s knowledge of man’s rebellion and God’s descent to the city. Movements three and four, “confusion” and “scatter,” depict the actions of God, confusing humankind’s language and scattering him over the earth. This project fuses rock ‘n’ roll influences with contemporary classical improvisation, creating a work that is sonically and dynamically excessive. One compositional goal was to use small amounts of material as the impetus for directed improvisation, which would be developed to create intricate and evolving textures. Each movement’s score is confined to a single page of music per part, necessitating highly graphic and aleatoric notation. The musical history and musicianship of each player greatly shapes the sonic outcome of Babel. Rigorous structure was mixed with extra-musical associations to create intricate layers of musical and metaphorical meanings. Every decision regarding form, pitch, rhythm, and improvisatory state is linked to a meaningful mathematical, philosophical, or theological idea. Out of the intention to illustrate a multi-layered, Biblical text interpreted in vastly different ways, came a complex work of art that challenges, yet welcomes, performers and listeners of all kinds.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Peringer, Patrick Edward