containing the theoretical text with relevant excerpts from the scores and sound recordings
As a symphonic/operatic conductor and a concert marimbist/percussionist I have dedicated the last couple of decades to interpreting the works of great Classical and Contemporary Classical composers. I have been educated since my very first music experiences in the framework of the Classical music tradition and that has become the framework of my compositional thinking, language and style. I have also been deeply fascinated with the tradition of Eastern Chant from my native Bulgaria, a tradition with a completely different theoretical mindset, and with time I have become a reader and chanter of the Orthodox Church. By the virtue of my principal instrument, percussion, in my teen years I had been also playing some traditional percussion (Tupan) with Bulgarian folk musicians, drums with Jazz formations, I had come to experience traditions and to absorb ways of thinking which at some point started to clash in my consciousness. That was certainly an exciting experience, but more importantly, these mindsets and traditions have influenced in various ways my own compositions, and mixing these mindsets without blending them resulted in an apparent eclecticism in my musical style. While eclecticism is something that does not bother a postmodern artist generally, it started to bother me. Perhaps the particularly significant degree of absorption of these diverse mindsets into my own personal way of thinking, (as supposed to observing and interacting with them objectively) has contributed to the fact that I felt increasingly uneasy with the eclectic quality of their interaction in my personal style. With the further development of my technique, and ventures into serialism and aleatorics, I started to perceive genuine stylistic fractures in my music, and although I was using them as creative means of expression, I came to feel intuitively a need for certain integrity which I felt was missing. I had to find a way to amalgamate the heterogeneous elements into something more holistic.
As every aspect of art has its material and spiritual aspects which are interconnected, I came to think that I needed to find a technical solution which would facilitate a technical integration of the various styles, techniques and influences that coexisted in my sound world, and perhaps that might have lead me to the holistic integrity that I was looking for. Thus, the compositions in this thesis represent a certain stage in a long lasting development which will continue in the future. However, in them I feel I have achieved something that is connected, integral and representative of what I was aiming for in a long process of searching and refining. I do not know to which extent this personal perception will be experienced by the listeners as well, but I can account for what I feel and hear, and I feel compelled to share it.
In this approach I have not aimed at such a stylistic and technical uniqueness that will make my music entirely different from any other style and music. Quite the reverse – it is strongly connected to all traditions that matter to me, and perhaps resembles many of them in many ways, which I find welcome. Thus I have a particular attitude to tradition and style and I will discuss the relationship between tradition and innovation from my personal perspective throughout this commentary.
For this reason I ought to mention quite a few names. Some of them will be mentioned within the following discussion, some of them will not. After all, this text has a limited span and I cannot discuss in it everything that might be relevant. But if I mention medieval Chant, Gesualdo, Purcell, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven Brahms, Bruckner, Wagner, Hindemith, Britten, Shostakovich, Vladigerov, Nenov, Sibelius, Messiaen, Bartok, Stravinsky, Cage, Iiev, Ligeti, Kazandjiev, Niculescu, Maxwell-Davies, Birtwistle, Cashian, Anderson, Pärt, Lindberg, Murail, folksongs, Salvador Dali, Lucio Fontana, Anish Kapoor, Mark Rothko and Rembrandt, that would be a very short and non-comprehensive list of interconnections. I am sure that I have already omitted more than half of what has a relevance to the foundations of my style and technique. But because the focus of this commentary is on a particular set of mainly technical principles, I will focus on the most salient connections that bear relevance to these technical aspects.
Therefore I must underline the importance of perspective. The composers and traditions that I will refer to are the ones that have influenced my work directly. There may well be other relevant connections, but the only ones that I will deal with here are those which have had a direct influence, and that influence I have been aware of.
Having in mind that the majority of readers interested in this text would have their backgrounds in Classical music or have Classical music in their backgrounds in some way; the relevant connections to that tradition will be outlined directly in the course of the discussion.
However, there are two other aspects which have a great importance for my work and which are not necessarily well known. One of them is a musical one, and the other one is visual.