Measure is the Heaven of Desire (2002-3)

This work for solo violin was inspired by the work of artist David Rabinowitch and is fondly dedicated to him.

David Ryther, Violin

Recorded live at the Berkeley Arts Center, Nov. 9th, 2003

Program Note: ”Measure is the Heaven of Desire” was written as a response to my encounter with the sculptor David Rabinowitch and his recent work at the Oliver Ranch. Rabinowitch’s work is concerned with the conditions of the possibility of experience. The viewer becomes aware of their own experience as a body within a gravitational field, measuring out relations to the exterior world. These relations reveal the profound relativity of our experience.

In thinking about this work I realized that it would be possible to write a piece of music based on “the condition of metricality” which is heart of Rabinowitch’s aesthetic. Here, the concern is an investigation of how we measure out time. The piece is constructed in three “stanzas” which are strictly notated. At the same time the introduction of tremolos of different speeds cuts against our clear perception of duration and tempo. Lastly, two interludes, notated without barlines, are inserted between the three stanzas. Their static and unmeasured temporality acts as the counterpart to the strictness of the stanzas, revealing time from another frame of reference.

The title is taken from a line of Hopkins: “What by your measure is the heaven of desire / the treasure never eyesight got, nor was ever guessed what for the hearing?”

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