According to Carl Jung, archetypes are primordial ideas and conceptions that universally exist in the minds of all humans without regard to culture or education. For example, Jung noted that all ancient cultures had a creation story. The stories themselves were vastly different but the existence of each of these stories hints to the fact that the idea of a ‘creator’ was and is universal in every culture. In the case of this example the ‘creator’ is the archetypal idea, and the creation story itself is a resulting manifestation of the archetype.
I found the notion of archetypes fascinating, and began to wonder whether music itself holds any archetypal ideas. The role of music is paramount in most if not all cultures and manifests in anything from the solemnity of worship to the most visceral celebration.
As we know the breadth of what music is can be vast, and this begs the question: which elements of music are archetypal and which are cultural.
Can we find any primordial elements of music that are ubiquitous to all humans regardless of their musical or cultural background?
I started writing this piece by writing its ‘archetype’, a musical idea from which all the materials of the piece will derive from, or in other words I wrote a ‘theme’. Traditionally a piece starts by presenting a theme that later goes through various kinds of alterations and manipulations, but in
the case of this piece, the theme (or archetype) is not presented in the beginning.
The piece uses the archetype as the generator of the musical materials but at the same time the archetype (theme) is not introduced. The piece is made out of six parts: five parts being different manifestations of the archetype, and the last part being the archetype itself. In each one of the
five manifestations only a certain aspect of the archetype sips through to the notes and we only get a glimpse of the archetype; we only see its ‘shadow’.
In the final and sixth part of the piece we finally get to listen to the archetype as it is. Would it sound familiar? Would it sound as if it was there
throughout the entire piece?
Instrumentation: Symphony Orchestra
Year of composition: 2015
Duration: ~18 min.
Date: May 31st 2016
Musicians: The Tokyo Philharmonic
Place: Tokyo Opera City
Winner of The Toru Takemitsu Composition Competition (2016)
Winner of The Arthur Friedman prize for an outstanding orchestral work (2015)
Winner of The Juilliard Orchestral Music Competition (2015)
Runner-up at Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute (2016)