For Bassoon Duo
By Kevin Austin
Within a Single Sound, There Is Already Enlightenment is first and foremost an aesthetic exercise in suizen, or “blowing meditation,” a Zen Buddhist practice employed by shakuhachi players of the Fuke School. The practice emphasizes the actualization of an enlightened state of mind through the production, and the consequential embodiment, of sound. Accordingly, this piece aims to create an aural environment – through deliberate instances of sonic fluctuation and unmeasured silence – that gently goads both the performers and the audience toward an altered state of consciousness. The two bassoons undulate between consonance and dissonance by means of timbral alterations, varied gestures of vibrato, pitch bends, and quartertone intervals until the focus shifts from what is being played, to how the performers are playing it. Likewise, the parallel shift between sound and silence draws focus to the steady rhythmic inhale and exhale that each of us is paradoxically bound to, and through which we can attain liberation.
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