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Sequenza V (author's note)

Sequenza V
for trombone (1966)

Sequenza V for trombone can be considered as an essay in the superimposition of musical gestures and actions: the performer combines and transforms both the sound of his voice and the proper sound of the instrument. In other words, he must perform two functions simultaneously: playing and singing. It’s not easy to get the coordination of the two elements exactly right, and the sense and efficacy of the piece depends on scrupulously respecting the intervals between voice and instrument: only in this way it is possible to attain the required level of transformation (vocalization of the instrument and “instrumentalization” of the voice), and to provide material suitable for further simultaneous transformations.
As in Sequenza III for voice, also in Sequenza V I tried to develop a musical commentary between the virtuoso and his instrument, by disassociating various types of behaviour and then putting them together again, transformed, as musical unities. Thus Sequenza V can also be heard and seen as a theatre of vocal and instrumental gestures.
Behind Sequenza V lurks the memory of Grock (Adriano Wettach), the last great clown. Grock was my neighbour in Oneglia. He lived in a strange and complicated villa up the hill, surrounded by a kind of Oriental garden with small pagodas, streams, bridges and willow trees. Many times, with my schoolmates, I climbed a high iron fence to steal oranges and tangerines from his garden. During my childhood, the closeness, the excessive familiarity with his name and the indifference of the adults around me, prevented me from realizing his genius. It was only later, when I was perhaps eleven, that I saw him perform on the stage of the Teatro Cavour in Porto Maurizio, and understood him. Once during the evening, while performing, he stopped suddenly and, staring at the audience with a disarming look, asked: “warum?” (“why?”). Like everyone else, I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry and I wanted to do both. After that experience, I stole no more oranges from his garden.
Sequenza V, written in 1966 for Stuart Dempster, is a tribute to Grock and his metaphysical why, which is the generating cell of the piece.

Luciano Berio