new music

Julieta Mihai

The Swing (2016)

The song for mezzo-soprano and harpsichord is a setting of a poem by John Shade, a fictional character in Vladimir Nabokov’s 1962 novel Pale Fire.

The setting sun that lights the tips
Of TV’s giant paperclips
Upon the roof;
The shadow of the doorknob that
At sundown is a baseball bat
Upon the door,
The cardinal that likes to sit
And make chip-wit, chip-wit, chip-wit
Upon the tree;
The empty little swing that swings
Under the tree: these are the things
That break my heart.

But it isn’t enough (2015)

The song for mezzo-soprano and harpsichord is a setting of a Russian poem by Arseny Tarkovsky. I used the translation of Maria Pearse, combined with the one from the film “Stalker” (Mosfilm, 1979), directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, Arseny’s son:

“Now the summer has passed.
It might never have been.
It is warm in the sun,
But it isn’t enough.

All that might’ve occurred
Like a five-fingered leaf
Fluttered into my hands,
But it isn’t enough.

Neither evil nor good
Has yet vanished in vain,
It all burned and was light,
But it isn’t enough.

Life forever was tucking,
caring, making me laugh.
I was really lucky,
But it isn’t enough.

The leaves were not burned.
The boughs were not broken,
The day clear as glass,
But it isn’t enough.”

Paparuda (2014)

for tape with violin

A Romanian drought ritual, Paparuda is still used in some places “to awaken the virility of the sky and to provoke the rain” (Mircea Eliade). When the soil cracks because of drought, a girl covered in grass stops at every house in the village while singing and dancing the following song:

Paparuda, ruda
Jump up and soak (us)
Soak with a sprinkle
For the vineyard to grow
(…) Soak with a bucket
For the fruit to grow
(…)Soak with a jug
For the little boy to grow up
(…)Soak with a cup
For the little girl to grow up

The peasants pour water over her. There is shouting and dancing.

I used percussive elements generated by metal and glass immersed in water, violin, heartbeats and voices. The voice of my infant son contributed to the timbral palette of the piece.

liquid willows (2013)

In my search for means to break through the pitch restrictions of the tonal system, I used glissando as a natural way to travel from one sound to another. I added to the more standard mediums violin and voice the sounds of the water pipes of my 1938 house. As the water column diminishes, the pitch and timbre change to create a fluid, eerie effect resemblant of the theremin. The water and particularly the rain droplets are some of the symbolic elements that recall for me the sound world of the Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky.

Carpathianhorns (2011)

The sound of the Carpathian horns sends me into a world of myth and legend. It hides elements of primordial time. Mircea Eliade calls it a “sacred time, […] paradoxical form of a circular time, reversible and recoverable, a sort of mythical now found regularly with rites”. The natural harmonics of the violin gave me the background scene of the piece, to which I added various fragments of microtonal improvisation. I tried to unfold it as a chamber music piece. The general mood is pastoral, suggestive of wild mountain peaks, chamois and new cheese.

1 Comment

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  1. The Swing
    But it isn’t
    Carpathian horns
    Liquid willows
    et alia

    musical haikus
    from Julieta Mihai

    in a primordial language unknown
    intravenously understandable

    Music that Elias Canetti may have thought of had he ever heard it
    (writing 1942 in German in London during the Blitz as Jewish Bulgarian writer of Sephardic origin):

    One does not need to draw from music for it is always in us;
    all we have to do is simply to listen, otherwise we learn in vain.

    Point n‘est besoin de puiser dans la musique; elle est toujours présente au fond de nous et il suffit de demeurer à l‘écoute, tout simplement.
    Autrement on apprend en vain.

    Non c‘è bisogno attingervi, poiché la musica esiste già da sempre in noi e basta semplicemente ascoltare, perché altrimenti
    si studia invano.

    No es preciso que saquemos de la música nada porque ella está siempre entre nosotros, y basta con oír ingenuamente; todo lo que no sea esto es un aprender inútil.

    Man braucht aus Musik nicht zu schöpfen, denn sie ist immer in uns da, und es genügt, schlicht zu hören, da man sonst vergeblich lernt.

    Elias Canetti:
    Die Provinz des Menschen; The Human Province; La Provincia del Hombre; La provincia dell’uomo; Le territoire de l’homme


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