Occam Delta XV
- Éliane Radigue
- Year of composition: 2018
- Instrumentation: string quartet
- Commission: Quatuor Bozzini
“Simplest is always the best!” Here is how Ockham’s Razor, a problem-solving principle also known as the ‘law of parsimony,’ is presented by composer Éliane Radigue. The idea is attributed to medieval philosopher William of Ockham (XIV century), and can be formulated as such: “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate; multiples should not be used without necessity. Placed at the core of Radigue’s instrumental project Occam Océan, this principle becomes at once a performance guide for musicians, and a key structural element of the piece. During performance the razor is used as follows: if a section of the piece turns out to be less intense than what was initially planned, it is best for performers to skip right to the next section rather than to relentlessly try to “fix” something that is not picking up. Reversely, if a section sounds marvellous, musicians are encouraged to sustain it as long as possible, for the sake of pleasure… In this way, each section of the piece is partly determined by that which—in the midst of performance—seems to be the simplest solution. For we are not talking here of scored music, but rather of an “intuitive compositional process,” akin to “oral transmission of ancient traditional music” (Sonami, 2017). During their first meeting with Radigue, musicians choose a water-related image (hence the second part of the title). This image is very personal to each musician, and behaves like a scaffolding in the construction of the piece, somewhat replacing the written score. Once the piece is well structured, the image may be “left behind, in the drawer,” like a score when one knows a piece of music by heart. Each piece is thus tailored for each musician, and each musician has her and his own solo, named Occam*. By combining solos, Occam River duos are formed, Occam Delta for trios and quartets, Hexa for quintets, and so forth up to Occam Océan for large orchestra. Up to this day, there are 23 solos, and already more than 50 pieces created through these combinations. As Radigue puts it, it is but the beginning of a cycle creating an œuvre “by nature unfinished, because [it is] unfinishable”… And this pleases her very much.
* Since all rules have their exceptions, not only is the Bozzini Quartet the only string quartet of the Occam project, but also the only Occam Delta not to be produced through the combination of solos and duos.
- June 9, 2018, Bozzini Quartet • Suoni Per Il Popolo 2018: Concert, Fonderie Darling, Montréal (Québec)