Opus 17A, 1984
recording Department of Music NTNU Trondheim, with Michael Francis Duch (bass), Alexander Riris (page turner), 2018, 1:17:51 h.
Film: Jeremy Welsh
Opus 17A is the first of four parts for solo double bass from Hanne Darboven’s monumental composition Wunschkonzert. The title is based on one of the longest-running programs on North German Radio (NDR-Norddeutscher Rundfunk) where one can send musical requests for loved ones: a »wish concert« that often covers a wide variety of genres, ranging from children’s songs to marches and popular music.
Opus 17A is, like many of her works, in many ways a challenging piece for both the audience and performer. The performance usually takes somewhere between 60 and 70 minutes, and the combination of its repetitiveness and slight variations creates an illusion of repeating patterns. Our brains seek to find patterns and the logic behind the music, although there is no apparent logic to be found, as the patterns are constantly changing.
Opus 17A is both a visual work of art as well as a musical composition based on thirty-six »poems,« each consisting of a title and Darboven’s calculations written on a confirmation greetings card. The musical score is derived from these poems, and in the score each poem consists of two pages. The mathematical translation to music was based on a system where 1 was translated to E, 2 to F, 3 to G, and so on—these were direct transcriptions of her famous number drawings.