Ultramarine (Songs in the Distance)
- Michal Nejtek

The texts of American writer Raymond Carver have been a great inspiration to me for a long time. I used some of them in my works, but never in the traditional way of setting text to music (instead, the author himself speaks through the sampler in one work, while in another musicians are creating something like a “poetic collage”, talking over each other, and so forth). Carver’s poetry (and prose too, as they are very similar) is based on observing and commenting “ordinary” reality, which, however, at specific moments always changes to something qualitatively different (Czech literary historian Josef Jařab calls such moments “poetic epiphany”) – and nothing is as it was. Such a moment, similar to the psychological “Gestalt switch,” is maybe akin golden ratio but in the sense of (creating some kind of) “transubstantiation.” 

Carver’s aesthetics impresses me. In my music I use “ordinary” moments or motifs very often and I like to approach them from several different composition angles, sometimes concurrently (similarly to cubists who in their paintings tried to capture reality from several different angles simultaneously). I like to let these motifs develop for a rather long period of time and I like to leave some space for the “Gestalt switch,” a radical change, something not planned. 

In my piece called Ultramarine (Songs in the Distance), I am inspired by several Carver’s texts – but none of them is used in the piece and it is not “programme music.” ese are several “musical stories” (maybe “songs”) which develop independently of each other (sometimes they are even very “distant”) and at one moment they meet, intersect, and influence each other. From that moment on there is a different situation, a different point of view. The piece was commissioned by the Prague Spring International Music Festival and the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music. 

Michal Nejtek