1 May 2016

Ramunas Motiekaitis: Light on Light

This week I thought it would be wonderful to introduce a composer I have been extremely keen about ever since I came across his wonderful work. Ramunas Motiekaitis is a truly fascinating, and one of the most original composers working in Lithuania today. With its profound philosophical drive and transcendent stillness, Ramnuas's music says so much by saying barely anything.

As well a being a remarkable composer, he is also quite an intriguing philosopher. Being one of the few great philosophical champions of Eastern Philosophies within Lithuania. His doctoral thesis was on the affects of Japanese culture and philosophy on Western music within the 20th Century. This has ultimately been one of the great drives behind his music. The fascination with Eastern Philosophies, including Zen Buddhism, combined with a great love of Toru Takemitsu makes his musical landscape quite natural.

When composers tackle philosophies like Buddhism, the first real challenge is what is 'self' when you are a composer? What is 'composer'? Like self does composer exist and not-exist? In the 20th and 21st Century this has lead to some truly remarkable answers, be it Cage's attempts to remove composer entirely from the process to let music just speak, or Scelsi's removal of music and harmony, by meditating and mediating on singular notes, or Eliane Radigue's ability to just sit in a moment. This question being one of the core focal points of Buddhism has so many profound implications that impact on so many layers when considered properly, so it is no surprise that there are so many answers to 'What is composer' within this context.

Motiekaitis's stand point is an intriguing one. In short, it is to write a music that just modestly sits back and does not intrude on the space, allowing you to focus on the space around you and the sensation of time. He does this by letting his music murmur and whisper. Never forcing you to listen, quietly pondering itself to itself, while you consider all that is around you in space and time.

Within the piece Light on Light (2004) for Trombone and String Quartet, as the composer says; is a reflection on the 'musical' and adjective mean of 'light'. With its shimmering, glistening colours of the trombone and strings are captivating, mostly because of their frantic energy and microscopic volume. The harmony stays very still, the music drifts in and out of silence, appearing as seamlessly as it disappears.

The directness and modesty of the piece is beyond poignant. And what really appeals to me is music that not only sits, but you are happy to just sit with it. Very few composers make this quite so elegantly. To have a composer who never forces your hand to an opinion or a stance, but just leaves you be, quietly thinking about all things or nothing. Reaching conclusions or not reaching anything can happen freely, without question or demand of result.

Sit, breath, listen, and enjoy Light on Light by Ramunas Motiekaitis.

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