1972 ELEMENTS OF LOGIC for large wind ensemble (co-author Jos Kunst)

In this work for extended wind orchestra, my late fellow composer, Jos Kunst, and I attempted to experiment with my notion of polyphony as described in BAU on a variety of levels. But yet another hobbyhorse came into play in this piece: the phenomenon of ambiguity. Ambiguity plays a crucial role in every successful work of art that exploits ‘surprise’ and double meanings. It requires a certain craftiness, that is, a dexterity of multidimensional thinking, so that the slight-of-hand works in practice as well as in theory. An example: end = beginning is a commonly-used trick in classical music, where the last note/harmony of a phrase is the first note/harmony of the next, new phrase.

But high equals low, much equals little, loud equals soft, fast equals slow, dynamic equals static etc., are also effective musical double meanings. And let’s not forget the enharmonic link between keys, a textbook application of ambiguity.

Elements of Logic is the product of yet another legacy, one that comes from preoccupations and experiments that prevailed within the ASKO climate. It concerns the need, or indeed the challenge, to treat the compositional process as an objective and rational endeavour. The mere fact of composing in a team requires that choices and decisions be expressed and justified in unambiguous terms. Just as the performers of a work, in order to arrive at a unanimous interpretation, need clear instructions to complement their musical intuition. At a time when musicians often indulged in ‘artistic’ vagueness when expressing musical inspiration or feeling, this was an understandable reaction. The idea that music is a product of the brain as well as the heart, is sometimes a difficult one to digest, as people prefer to worship the divine hand of the mysterious and to forget about the banalities of composition as a craft.

The first performance of Elements was given by the Residentie Orkest in the Hague, 1974 and a recording was issued on Composer’s Voice 74/75 no. 3.