Christian Mason (*1984) Lahara
[6perc] 2015 Duration: 13'
World premiere: Gwangju/Korea, The Asian Arts Theatre, November 24, 2016
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Lahara - which literally means ‘wave’ - is a term used in Indian music to describe a repeating melodic phrase that accompanies “table” and “pakhawaj” solo. In such a traditional context the “lahara” would be played by a melodic instrument such as the sarangi, functioning as a background against which the flourishing virtuosity of the soloist could evolve. In my piece this function is also present in the form of a long line stated three times fully in the Thai gongs, however there is no virtuosic soloist. Instead, the musical evolution (if it is that) takes the form of a resonant ceremony enacted on bell plates and steel pans, situated not only on-stage but in four locations around the audience. If you want to look for it, the idea of waves can also be seen in other aspects of the piece: the slow wave of the gradual progression of players from the back of the hall to the front, which defines the form of the piece; the waves of tam-tam crescendi at the end of each statement of the “lahara”; maybe even in the way that the foreground melodic figurations progressively increase in density over the course of the piece until they completely dominate our perception, before suddenly disappearing… And on a more concrete note every sound is, after all, a wave.
(Christian Mason, 2016)