Vykintas Baltakas - Sandwritings


Musicians on the recording

Indrė Baikštytė - piano

Jonė Punytė - piano

SWR-Symphony Orchestra

Brad Lubman - conductor

Recording track list


Vykintas Baltakas, Indrė Baikštytė, Jonė Punytė - Sandwriting (I) for two electric keyboards & computer  15:16
SWR-Symphony Orchestra, Brad Lubman - Sandwriting II for orchestra  19:13


NoBusiness Records NBCC 8
Release year - 2022

Credits and release info

Music is a time based medium or 'art in time'. Linearity as a specific way of thinking in music, reaches its peak in the classic-romatical era, and remains strong in the musical thinking today. In a linear perception, musical changes are seen as events in time. This is related to the way we perceive, organize and memorize temporal information. Often this type of linearity will be seen as a "musical narrative".

As a composer, I am more interested in a a new non-linear model: musical structure that includes changes and thereby maintains the attention for the music, but is not based on a narrative in terms of content: i.e. the concrete process and the form direction are not essential for the piece and can be exchanged.

The Sandwriting-cycle was created on the basis of this idea.

The first piece, SANDWRITING I for two electric pianos and electronics was written in 2017-2018 - commissioned by the WDR Cologne (Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik) and realised in close cooperation with the Experimentalstudio des SWR, Freiburg. The instrumentation for this piece in combination with the use of electronics provided me with the perfect conditions to experiment with non-linearity.

The computer plays the role of a third player: every piano part contains around 20 musical episodes, which emphasize certain aspects of the initial material and together create a sort of continuous variation. The order in which these episodes appear is not fixed. Operating prepared algorithms, the computer plays an important role: as it adapts the texture by adding and removing notes, changing the harmony or timbre depending on the pianist's interpretation. More so: the computer monitors the overall sound and chooses the best suited episode for continuation, again by operating prepared algorithms.

In the morphing process that results from this, the actual path or direction of the episodes is no longer essential, by morphing I mean: the gradual transformation of one sound into another. The structure that is created in this way, I call the modal form.

This type of composition brings on new challenges for the performer: the pianists are involved in a different way of music creation, where the effort goes towards the active creation of the overall sound and less to the vertical synchronization of the musical material. The articulation, dynamics and attack, immediately affect the texture, timbre and form of the piece.

The second piece, SANDWRITING II (2019) for symphony orchestra is based on the same material as the first, however, here I rearrange it into a completely different form. Again, I looked for a way to distance myself from the material by delegating certain decisions to an external non-musical process, not a computer this time, but a sequence of a filmed plant leaf movement. For this purpose I categorized the source material according to certain criteria such as intensity, density, register, etc.. This process led to surprising musical results, which I then developed in detail in the texture and orchestration. Instead of a narrative, there is a continuous sound state, illuminated from different angles.

Vykintas Baltakas