Maxim Shalygin

composer | conductor | visual artist

Instrumentation: for organ & saxophone quartet
Year: 2021
Duration: 67'
First performer: Una Cintina (organ)& Amstel Quartet
Premiere:  05 Feb 2022 Orgelpark, Amsterdam

Commissioner: Amstel Quartet with the financial support of Fonds Podiumkunsten

Buy Score: will be published soon at the Donemus



'SONGLESSNESS' is a monument to that which cannot exist yet is experienced internally.

'SONGLESSNESS' is a journey with the aim of an infinite melody, continuous time and expansion of 'time-space'.

Time is one of man's most mysterious enigmas. The problem of time has attracted and continues to attract philosophers who strive to understand the essence of our existence. It worries mankind because it directly concerns every person who feels the inevitability and ruthlessness of time. Music is the art form that is most closely connected with time, as its very essence is in movement. Perhaps that is why music has always been regarded as a repository of esoteric knowledge that holds the secret to humanity's most pressing mystery.
Music has always been able to reproduce time in several dimensions simultaneously. This phenomenon was vividly expressed in the music of Wagner, Bruckner, and Mahler. Listeners were able to experience entirely different time dimensions, by means of the endless continuity in the whole musical texture, including harmony, also achieved through the use of interrupted cadences and interrupted harmonic phrases. The music of these composers is difficult to grasp in a single glance, the flow of music seems to flow over the edge, not staying within the boundaries of the listener's usual perception.

After that, the interest has been lost. Only in the post-war period Schnittke, Ligeti, and Zimmermann return to the study of this aspect of music.

We can say with certainty that the key here is the composer's relationship to melody and harmony. Each of the aforementioned composers explores these possibilities in different ways, achieving sometimes astonishing results. Further, we see the composer’s attempts to return melody to its status as the main expressive medium in music. Who would have thought that we would actually have to fight for this in XXI century?

We can see that it is quite successful with composers within a single tonality, or modal system (Pärt, Kancheli, Lang). A more refined method is explored by composers who use melody in combination with modulations and extended tonality (Szymański, Lunyov, Silvestrov). In the case of these examples, we see that composers use melody as a kind of allusion to melodies of the past as if distorting it in a crooked mirror.

For centuries, composers have tried in various ways to prolong the existence of the melody, as it is the most magical moment in the musical texture. What about the interrupted passages in Chopin's music. Or Beethoven's and Wagner's use of the double dominant, etc. Here we are confronted with basic but important questions: what gives the sense of the melody’s end? What gives the continuation of a melody's life? Can a melody exist forever? What is a short melody, or a long melody? How do we perceive one or the other? Can we trick a people's mind and make them believe in something that doesn't really exist…?

The 'SONGLESSNESS' focuses on a combination of Wagner's idea of an endless melody as well as the creation of the poly-temporal development of the material.

Over the years, Shalygin has been drawn to one wondrous paradox:
the slowness of musical development does not always work as a slow time effect.

This paradox raises the following questions for the composer:
how can one speed up the movement so that time is perceived extremely slowly, and how can one slow down the tempo so that the perception of time is accelerated?

These are the borderline moments that are explored in 'SONGLESSNESS.