Suya Dalmak

cello and tape

Duration 10’
Instrumentation cello & tape
Commissioned by Isang Enders and Festival 3B
First Performance Saturday 5 April 2014; Isang Enders, Festival 3B, Wuppertal, Germany
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Purchase Materials
Further Performances
1.4.15 The Forge, London Amorpha Ensemble: Louise McMonagle
13.04.16 Heidelberger Frühling Late Night Lounge, Frauenbad Heidelberg; Isang Enders
18.09.19 Stadthaus Ulm, Germany; Isang Enders
19.12.19 Piano Salon Christophori, Berlin, Germany; Isang Enders

Suya Dalmak is the result of a commission from cellist Isang Enders, forming part of a collection of works he is commissioning for cello and electronics, each piece based on one of the ancient Korean elements. I chose Water.

I asked people to talk to me about the sea, to tell me about their first experience or memories surrounding it- when was it, where, what did it feel like or sound like to be immersed or submerged in the water, what did the experience mean to them? I was given accounts of exquisite stories, invited to glimpse into people’s inner most worlds and intimate memories, something which was far more stimulating and beautiful than I could have imagined. These ‘voices’ formed the starting point for ‘Suya Dalmak’.

The title is Turkish, ‘dalmak’ meaning to dive, plunge into, to become abstracted, lost in thought, to enter (a place) suddenly; ’Suya Dalmak’ literally meaning to dive into water. The first voice that I recorded was of a Turkish friend, a film maker, who told me a powerful account about how her relationship with the sea has changed because she can no longer dive into it, since being caught in a bomb explosion which burned her body and ruptured her ears. Her story became a driving force behind the piece at this early stage; it became about immersion in water, the state and the process.

Collecting accounts from 21 people in 14 different languages over 6 months, the piece began building and taking shape, led by the universality of our basic human emotions sparked by seeing or remembering the sea, be it joy, sorrow, hope, fear, struggle, relief, surprise, courage or gratitude. A sense of journey was usually present and the personalities of the interviewees gradually became part of the piece, their personal experiences of the sound, the smell or the feeling of the sea.

The piece was principally composed in November 2013 whilst I was resident at the Liguria Study Centre, a location where one is constantly spoilt by the sight and sound of the sea. I recorded the sound of the sea in various bays around the town of Bogliasco. This was used in the tape part along with samples from a sound library which were chosen and crafted together to form the sound of the waves and the impression of being on top of the water in the first section and immersed beneath the water in the central section. In the final part we hear only the Bogliasco sea.

Considering different states and actions: above and under water, submersion and emersion, led me to the structure of the piece and the musical material: in each state or action what would the music sound like? At the opening the surface movement of the water can be felt in the live and pre-recorded cello parts, gentle and tranquil. Suddenly being submersed, the central section is underwater, reflected in the playful pizzicato cello- a secret underworld where everything is different and sounds are warped. A more gradual emersion leads to the final section, above water again, this time heard from a more distant place. The cello is reflective, echoes bouncing between live and pre-recorded parts on the tape.

During composition the tape part underwent several transformations and in the finished piece just four human voices are used, underlaying the central section reflecting on underwater experiences. I intend to extend the work to include a prologue and epilogue utilising more of the voices already recorded.

The piece was written during a residency at The Liguria Study Centre in Bogliasco, Italy.

Thank you

Michael Barenboim (French)
Klara Bernat (Hungarian)
Maité Cécile (German)
Siddhartha Deb (Bengali)
Carole Fives (French)
Florent Ghys (French)
Jorge Grossmann (Portugese)
Marianne Halter (Swiss German)
Jo Hsin (Chinese)
Jungin Huh (Korean)
Burcu Koray (Turkish)
Mario Marchisella (Swiss German)
Asaf Maoz (Hebrew)
Burak Marlali (Turkish)
Amanda Michalopoulou (Greek)
Natasha Pegarkova (Russian)
Maryam Samii (Persian- Farsi)
Alexandra Soumm (French)
Waltteri Torikka (Finnish)

Isang Enders cello
Moritz Cappelmann sound design
The MacDowell Colony
The Bogliasco Foundation