Patterns in Asemic Writing

For oboe and bassoon

Patterns in Asemic Writing has two distinct and completely unrelated influences. 

The first, Asemic writing, is actually a form of visual art that involves text, or rather lines and scribbles that resemble text in an unknown language, but have no meaning. Artists are thus obliged to balance the semblance of textual structure with purely visual elements. The interplay between function, familiarity, and aesthetic appeal is fascination, and many of the examples are quite beautiful. Each “movement” of my piece, of which there are three, is based on a specific asemic writing artwork. The challenge for me, of course, was to interpret these concepts musically. (the problem remains more or less unresolved)

The second influence, the music of Al-Andalus, was in some ways more straight forward, though certainly more challenging. My research on this music, practiced in Muslim Spain from roughly the eighth through the fifteenth centuries, was little more than an initial foray into a vast and complex world. Though I adapted material from several songs and one longer “nuba,” I treated the material with a great deal of flexibility. In other words, with the exception of several sections, I’m not sure much of the piece sounds particularly “Andalusian.” Of course our modern knowledge of this ancient and mostly unnotated music is itself limited, thus further complicating matters.

Patterns in Asemic Writing was commissioned by Andrea Ridilla and Ryan Reynolds.