A Composer’s Journey, by Vasiliy Medved., revised and edited by Gregory Hall
(Editor’s note: Mr. Medved’s personal journey has taken him from his first compositional endeavors in his native Ukraine, to a fully professional career here in the States. As such he brings perspectives on modern composition that draw from techniques modern yet rooted in the ecstatic visions of his homeland.)
I was a self-taught musician for many years, and, therefore, much of my early music was ear-based and homophonic, and there was little consideration for voice-leading, structural elements, and formal procedures when I composed music during that period. Yet the use of some extended tonality was evident right from the beginning of my compositional activities, for I was instinctively trying to get out of the boundaries of tonal thinking from the outset. When my composition and music theory studies started a whole new world of ideas, techniques, and directions opened me to new possibilities, and, literally, tore apart my heart. I have gradually come to understand that I should be looking for a special means of musical expression that would define my own identity both as a composer and as a man on a path to personal redemption. Music that I compose tends to speak of the soul that needs to be forgiven; for this reason, I searched for musical idioms that could help me delineate this entreaty of the lonely heart to the heavens. That is why polyphony—contemporary and traditional–has become a favorite means of expression in my compositions.
I understand human beings as many-sided individuals, whose deeply fragmented interior worlds bear the weight of man’s unresolved existential questions. I also think that our inner selves need to be pacified and harmonized through a voluntarily surrender to the idea of tolerance toward people, and in forgiveness of our own and other individual’s weaknesses. For me, polyphony exemplifies–allegorically speaking–a vast field of inner reality, where the central idea of human transcendence is exemplified through complex polyphonic procedures. This notion of personal redemption through polyphony profoundly influences me on all levels, exemplified by the contrapuntal development of a fugue’s subject and answer distributed throughout a polyphonic texture. Thus, the heterogeneity of polyphonic textures may serve to illustrate my own inner diversity, and ideas of love and compassion symbolized by these musical textures might unite my fragmented nature to help me regain a lost sense of inner harmony.
In short, music has become for me more linear in nature, yet simultaneously full of harmony. The coexistence in my music of fine and coarse intervals (secondal and triadic), simultaneous horizontal and vertical textures, and the freedom of open musical space vs. temporary deviations into passages of tonal organization; all of these things speak–to me at least–of one never-ending story, of a person’s journey back to their forgotten home. It is a journey full of dangers and pitfalls, a journey with a sense of its own uniqueness; for each prodigal goes through their own experiences along the way. This is why a third factor particularly important to me lies in the domain of colors, and here one may make as many correlations as one wishes, beginning with the colors of sonorities as metaphor, to the perceived colors of different musical scales, up through to the craft of orchestral coloration—itself the height of the composer’s art.
This all requires a trained mind, but Her Majesty Music should never let the mind forget about its other purpose—the initial reason for all that we write lies in the fields of Love and Hope. I think that a consensus could be achieved here; the craft of musical creation should be humanized with our emotions, with tender emotion that comes directly from the heart. If our mind can perceive what our heart seeks to express, then the heart can assign the mind the task of finding the best musical presentation, the most appropriate form that would allow us to utter the message of Hope with precision and accuracy.
Vasiliy Medved/Gregory Hall
Reprinted by permission of CRS Inc. (www.crsnews.org) Inquiries about recordings/concerts/master classes may be directed to the CRS web page.