Flat Line (2014)

Flat Line (2014)
for chamber ensemble of 15 players – 14'00
Commissioned and premiered by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne for the FORUM 2014 (Montréal, Québec) 

Program note: 

What’s in a name?

First there is the cool abstractness of a simple line. Brings to mind eventless flatlands and those triangular straightedges I once used to quietly sketch blueprints, and also this dizzying bit from Ashbery:

. . . the lines of seams
Sketched in and plunging now and then into unfathomable
Valleys that can’t be deduced by the shape of the person
Sitting inside it [. . . ] just as our way is flat across
Dales and gulches, as though our train were a pencil
Guided by a ruler held against a photomural of the Alps . . .

Second, the more evocative flatline of death: the cessation of signal in an electrocardiogram marked by the familiar long-tone beep. But before I had thought of this, and free of any ‘extra-musical’ intentions, the ending occurred to me: suddenly resolving to a high, sustained C. Thus the title asks: is this all a prolonged meditation on death?

Well. Insofar as all music is about death (the decay of sound) and indeed all art (it seems the only argument we have against it) I cannot offer any helpful guide to differentiating between long lines of sound forged into melodic contours and the chilly flatline of extinction which marks its end and ours.