1st Alexanderina Contemporary Music Biennale _Booklet

Dr. Nahla Mattar

Contemporary Music is a term that refers to specific styles rather than the immediate reference of the word “contemporary” as “the present”. In these styles, western music composition has drifted away from its traditional 300- year-old path, particularly; beginningin 1945, when most of the ideology and behavior of the western society began to shift. Eventhough this trend began both in Europe and the States, and due to the huge developmentin the field of communication, non-western countries began to send music students towestern establishments (especially of composition) to study the most recent trends in music.The result was a combination, of at least two musical cultures; the western and the local. This combination succeeded at times, and fail at others; yet, the common interest in allfocused around the fascination with the sound as an independent entity, far from the well-ornamented melodies, or even the sensual sequences of the rhythmic cycles known in thetradition of these local cultures.
Accordingly, music is the organization of sound over time, regardless of the sound identityused; was it pitched or nonpitched, coming from an instrument or recorded from nature, oreven relating to noise. Indeed, the most radical of all sound material is the one that iscompletely and artificially synthesized, resulting in a sonic material which does not resembleany existing sound around the ear. So, the goal is the sonic base, and how it will grow overtime in ways that are different from the traditional ways of structuring music according to thegravity in the following pairs: melody and rhythm, and tonality and harmony.

The sonic base is the beginning as well as the end, and other structural elements would just contribute to the unique sonority of that base. Therefore, the composer faces many challenges in selecting the best structuring to the sonic materials. Yet, the performer hasa demanding responsibility to interpret these brand new idioms. As for the audience, only sincere patient listening will make them connect to such styles.

Would I have to choose another word to parallel the term “contemporary”, would choose“risk taking”. A composer is that person who rather takes risks to reach to his/her uniquevoice and vision, regardless of the catchy and popular sounds. It is a journey of being sohonest to oneself, and it is a need to reach new horizons of self expression!!!

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