The Continuity Hypothesis is composed for bass flute, bass clarinet, cello, digital keyboard and electronics. The work's name is borrowed from linguistics, where the 'continuity hypothesis' is concerned with an infant's first language acquisition, specifically investigating whether linguistic structures are innate or learned progressively through acquiring vocabulary. For me the interesting aspect of this research is whether a baby's babbling is genuine linguistic activity or merely physical training of the vocal tract anatomy. In other words, is a baby expressing their thoughts and feeling through babbling, or is it merely impulsive muscle activity?
In my work, the acoustic instruments, whose range is roughly similar to that of humans, interpret notes and instructions that allow for some improvisation, creating their own rhythmic and melodic motives from the given materials. The pitch materials are derived from the composer Fritz Heinrich Klein's 'Mother Chord', and the rhythmic materials are based on the relative lengths of consonant and vowels, and the rate at which these are introduced in a typical infant's vocabulary.
The keyboardist plays any extracts from J.S.Bach's 'Well-tempered Clavier', which were originally composed as a pedagogical aid to teach the student to play in all the 12 major and minor scales, a relatively recent invention at the time. This collection, for me, symbolises a kind of 'universal language' that haunts Western classical music to this day. The sound of the keyboard in my piece is muted, and instead the keys control the live signal processing of the electronics, combining Bach's highly ordered compositions with an element of chance in how they activate the processing. This processing, created on the software 'Max', samples and filters the acoustic instruments, akin to a child's parent who repeats a baby's utterings, guiding them through positive feedback towards language competence.
The live music is accompanied by a tape part created from the sounds of film projectors, a mechanical rhythmic polyphony that situates the musicians inside an imaginary factory to forge a possible new language from bygone raw materials.
This work was composed at the request of Andre de Ridder for Finland's defunensemble, and was premiered by them at Musica Nova Helsinki in February 2017.