Willem Boogman




ca 14 minutes (variable)

commissioned by

Katja Blischke

dedicated to

Katja Blischke


June 29, 2006
Amsterdam, De Badcuyp

Susanna Borsch - tenor recorder

Genieting - the cycle

›Genieting III‹ is the third work in a series of solo compositions entitled ›Genieting‹ (›pleasure‹, ›enjoyment‹), the translation of the French ›jouissance‹ used by the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. I interpreted this term not only in the sense of what it means to be a soloist but also as the kind of music the soloist plays. In ›Genieting‹ the music is brought back to its constituent elements, whence it is built up once again.

»La jouissance est un retrait en soi, une involution.
... une exaltation vibrante où le soi se lève.«

Emmanuel Levinas

buy the score


Genieting III

for tenor recorder (2004)

Genieting III_score-sample score sample

revision history

April 2009
  • some time signatures were hidden; resolved
  • an explanation of the accents in Q, bar 8-9, was added
  • the English of the footnotes 7 and 8 (page 10) was corrected

program note | toelichting (NL)

According to the myth of Er, as told by Plato in his Republic, each mortal life cycle begins by the determining of its destiny. The three Fates, daughters of Necessity, lead this process: Lachesis offers the lots and samples of the lives the souls can choose; Clotho ratifies the choosen destiny of each by drawing the life’s thread on the spindle; and Atropos makes the threads irreversible by spinning them. Life hangs, as it were, on a silken thread.

Contrary to the meticulously measured duration (days, nights, weeks, months, years) of the rotations of the heavenly bodies, according to Plato, the Fates represent the ›fatal‹ time span of mortal life: Lachesis represents the past, Clotho the present and Atropos the future. A mortal can only be born once his soul’s time span has been determined: »The only thing he [Er] knew was that he had suddenly opened his eyes, and that it was morning.«

Elements from this myth contributed to the inspiration for Genieting III.

First there is the element of measured time, of the duration of a breath and of silence. Then there are tones that are ›alive‹ for the duration of the breath that produces them. A tone, after all, begins to die as soon as it is produced, with a lifespan of no more than a breath. This forms the opening phrase of Genieting III, which consists of a 4/4 measure with an unmeasured tremolo, followed by an improvised two-pitch Morse code-like motion. This motion lasts the duration of a single breath, during which the tones die out as the breath becomes weaker. After a short pause the process begins anew, this time with different pitches.

Briefly summarized, this basic idea has been developed as follows:
Tones are spun into threads and these threads are woven into a web. This tonal web forms the composition’s exposition, which is broken off by an extreme overblown tone as a clear landmark. Thereafter this signpost is repeated [varied] four times amidst the continual spinning of the tonal threads and weaving of the web. The web is anchored to these four landmarks. Now the threads of pitches gradually show contours: the music ascends or descends. This becomes increasingly evident in the following accelerated reprise of all the pitches, now grouped into rhythms and measures so that a melody arises. At the work’s conclusion the music coagulates into precise measured vibrations: »Waiting until the day comes into the light«. (See score, p. 9)

Genieting III is full of microtones. They cause the sound of the recorder to be fragile and brittle, giving the sound a lyrical, colourful dimension. In working out the practical aspects of this composition I was assisted by the recorder player Susanna Borsch, with whom I arrived at the fingering system that is used in this piece.

(Translation: Jonathan Reeder)

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