VA I VE is a short but intense piece, full of dynamic and character contrasts that perfectly describe the back and forth movement (va i ve) referenced by the name of the piece.

SERGIO FIDEMRAIZER (Rosario, 1958) is an Argentinian composer based near Barcelona (Spain) for more than 30 years. His extensive production includes all genres of contemporary music, but chamber and solo instrument music have given him international projection.

Read more about Sergio Fidemraizer here

Meaning and structure of VA I VE

VA I VE, for baritone saxophone and fixed electronics (tape), was completed in August 2010 and published later in Editions Bar&Co (France). I premiered this piece at the 3ème Rencontre International autour du Saxophone Baryton in Ambazac (near Limoges, France) on October 24th, 2010 and recorded later for the album of the composer, Visiones, released by Solfa Recordings in 2014.

The instrumental part of VA I VE contains a great assortment of contemporary music elements: multiphonics, keys and air noises, vibrato and fluctuations, portamenti, diversity of articulations (from soft tonguing to very sharp slaps), growl and voice and it also includes a short free improvisation section in the middle of the piece. The score is written using relative notation, time indications and it is divided into bars that length a second, so you should play it with a chronometer.

The electronic part of VA I VE contains electronic and prerecorded saxophone sounds blended and processed using distortions, compressions, reverberations and other effects. The result is a very dynamic audio with lots of character contrasts and stereo channels changes.

VA I VE could be structured in different sections, according to the character and the compositional elements used:

  1. [00:00 – 1:32]: The baritone saxophone part is plenty of very short excerpts that have to be played very fast and with sudden ends. It also has different kind of articulations, trills, growls and multiphonics that contrast with a short and very lyrical section in the middle of the section. The dynamic range of this section is loud, between mf and ff, as well as the electronic part, full of distorted noises.
  2. [1:33 to 3:11]: The electronic part develops some effects from keys sounds and crystal noises in soft dynamics (pp to mp) in an irregular rhythm which interacts with the baritone saxophone part through keys and air noises, frullati, slaps and short melodic excerpts. In [2:40] multiphonics and oscillations in the treble register of the baritone saxophone merge into the electronic part elements.
  3. [3:12 to 4:29]: The compositional elements of the first section of VA I VE return in both electronic and instrumental parts and this section becomes agitated as the very beginning. From [4:01] until the end of this section, Fidemraizer proposes the performer either to improvise freely or to follow some of his instructions.
  4. [4:30 to 6:10]: This section starts with lot of excitement but it gradually calms down towards the end of the piece. The voice games of the electronic part progressively disappear although some percussive sounds rise prominence. Whilst, some short melodic excerpts and keys sounds on the baritone saxophone part give way to multiphonics which provide the piece some polyphony. VA I VE ends with isolated notes in slap.

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Technical work

VA I VE is not a very demanding technical piece although it is necessary to control some contemporary music effects such as slaps, multiphonics and growl.

In my opinion, the main technical work of VA I VE lies in its copious fast excerpts which should to be performed as clearly as possible. Thus, a previous slow work on them is recommended to be able to play well them. The last note of each group must be as short as possible in order to slightly separate these excerpts from each other.

The variety of articulations is another technical element to take into consideration. It is important to distinguish them in the right way: from simple tonguing to slaps as well as all sorts of accents. They usually appear in excerpts with accellerando or ritardando, so that you should have to do a remarkable coordination work between the speed of tongue and fingers. As the passages with growl is concerned, you can further strengthen this effect outputting voice.

As I mentioned before, it is recommendable to perform VA I VE with a stopwatch because of its time indications. At the very beginning, you should work with the metronome = 60 (1 beat = 1 second) to ensure you match the durations and execution of the notes with the electronics.

When you finish the technical work of VA I VE, listen to the audio carefully in order to balance the dynamics of the baritone saxophone in order to play it with the electronic part. Listening to the audio will also help you to know the character and attitude to play VA VE in concert.

Performance work

If you like to perform with energy, VA I VE is your piece because it is really physical.

First of all, you should make a good balance between the volume of electronics and your instrument. You should take care of the sound levels so that your saxophone becomes integrated into the audio (50/50). To play it with a sound engineer who modules the volumes of both parts (baritone saxophone and electronics) should be the best option. But if this is not the case, your active listening and intuition will certainly help you find the best solution anyway.

The performance of VA I VE should appear to be a very agitated work (Fidemraizer indicates “violent” at first). Thus, short excerpts have to be played very fast, trills and growls very accentuated and articulations very clear. It should always be played with a lot of intensity and energy. You should get a broad sound in the expressivo excerpts, thus enhancing portamenti and growls.

Your body expression is also important in VA I VE. If you need to move any part of your body to produce an effect, do it clearly, without timidity. For example, the audience should be able to see perfectly how do you raise your fingers (or hands) to produce the keys sounds or how do you blow the baritone saxophone to produce air sounds. Another example would be when [4:30] you ask the audience “faig un altre?” [FON. fáʧ un áɫtɾə?] (Do I do another one?)

As I said before, Fidemraizer gives the performer the option to improvise freely in the middle of the piece. The composer proposes a beginning and an end but you can structure it as you wish, according to your creativity and intuition. Gestures and even theatrical performance are welcome to show the audience that you are doing something which is not written down.

During long rest measures all throughout the work (especially in those that divide the sections), try to move quietly to avoid distracting the audience from attention: be as discreet as you would be playing with a pianist or a chamber music group.

I encourage you working on VA I VE: it is really a successful concert piece!