Instrumentation: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet (+ Bass Clarinet), Bassoon, Horn, Trumpet, Percussion, Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, Contrabass
Year of composition: 2019
Duration: ~10 min.
Date: April 8th 2019
Musicians: International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE )
Place: Abrons Arts Center, New York
Pardès (פרדס) is Hebrew for “orchard” and the etymological origin of the word “Paradise”.
Jewish Talmud tells of four people who entered the Pardès. Out of the four, three found their demise overwhelmed by their experience. This story serves to warn us of haphazardly embarking on journeys we are unprepared for. It warns us of the devastating power of knowledge. In this case, of divine knowledge.
P(a)RD(e)S (Hebrew is written without vowels) is also an acronym for the four ways in which one might gain scriptural knowledge:
Peshat = “surface” - literal meaning of the text.
Remez = “hint” – a deeper symbolic or allegoric meaning of the text.
Derash = “inquire” - the meaning we learn from research and comparative study.
Sod = “secret” – the mystical / magical meaning that uncovers the divine meaning.
Before writing this piece, it occurred to me that the four ways of interpreting the bible, can be applied to how a piece of music is written, and in turn, interpreted in its own right.
And so, when we listen to music, we can listen through this quadruple prism. When we ask, “what are we hearing?” we engage in “peshat”, the sounds themselves. When we ask, “what do the sounds convey?” we uncover its “remez”, the contemplation of the scenery, the sentiment, and the emotional trajectory. When we ask, “what does it mean?” we invoke “derash” by placing the work in context and in discourse with existing works and other relevant spheres.
Remains out of our control is the Sod, the secret. If we uncover it, then we uncover the art itself.
You are one of four entering the orchard.