Seyyah II

(for Sinfonietta / 9-10' )

Written for a sinfonietta consisting of 15 parts, this piece marks the first instalment of Seyyah trilogy. Besides being the starting point of the wandering path, the piece focuses on several individual concepts and various extra musical ideologies. The musical form and the flow of time is based on, surely one of the most fascinating and pure rock gardens in Zen Buddhism; Ryōan-ji. Although built as a residence during Heian Japan, the site later transformed into a temple complex by a member of the shogunate in Muromachi Period. The rock garden is widely regarded as one of the greatest examples of its kind and praised by masses, even the likes of John Cage which also had a special connection with the garden.

Ryoanji Temple
Ryoanji Temple

Behind the Concept

Zen gardens are in its simplest form, made up of various rock formations, white gravel and moss around the rock formations which is the case with Ryōan-ji. White gravel represents the water and it is regularly raked by monks to represent the ripples of ocean. Rocks are placed very carefully within the gravel to represent various land formations. Ryōan-ji rock garden consists of 15 rocks with different sizes and shapes placed in five groups paired as; one group of 5 stones, two groups of 3 stones and two groups of 2 stones. These groups are resting inside a rectangle garden full of white gravel with each of them placed at an intersection of two or more diagonals of an imaginary heptagon. Although the garden is meant to be viewed from the hojo, which is situated within the veranda of the temple; the heptagonal placement and fascinating engineering behind the garden design allows the viewer to only see 14 rocks at most from any point around the structure. 


    These 5 groups of rock formations made up of 15 individuals is taken as the base structure of the instrumentation as well as the time flow as the piece features 15 instrumental forces which are grouped in various formations throughout the piece. With each section, these groups of 5 cumulative forces constantly changes to allow each force their equal time just like the perfect order among the rocks and encourages the listener to understand and the full ensemble which may never happen due to the formation of the parts.

 Each instrumental force represents one of these 15 carefully placed rocks and collectively become the landscape groups of 5-3-3-2-2. As one would rotate around the garden, from each point of the invisible heptagonal edges, another group of rock formation would become more distinctive and that group would have the psychological dominance over the viewers sight perception. The aim of the sections ranging from A to F has a similar objective as in each section, different groups of instrumental forces become dominant within the texture, in order to capture the equilibrium among various instrumental timbres; just like the perfect balance behind the genius of Ryōan-ji. 

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