Aki Pasoulas
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Commentary

The Eight Permanent Emotions

The subject of the composition is based on the eight permanent emotions of the Hindu theory of rasa. According to the art historian and critic Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947), the eight emotions of the Indian tradition are the heroic, the erotic, the wondrous, the mirthful, sorrow, fear, anger and the odious; these emotional characters (the flavours of rasa) have a common tendency towards tranquillity.

The structure of the piece is influenced by the throat-songs (katajjaq) of the Inuit people of Canada. The exclusively vocal style where the performers introduce low throat sounds while at the same time generating a string of inhaled and exhaled sounds, is known as ‘panting style’. The panting style transforms the words, and the songs become enigmatic riddles, which are used to stir up the imagination and reasoning of the audience.

My own interpretation of the eight emotions is that, for compositional purposes, they permeate one's life. The piece corresponds to a memoir of a life from beginning to end. Words are neither meant to be obvious, nor completely encrypted. The focus is on the rhythmic properties of the words, executed with emphasis on particular consonants and on the voiced/voiceless and inhaled/exhaled patterns of individual syllables and the in-between breaths.

At times, distant vocal sounds appear in the background, by-products of the main 'conversation' of the two canon-related voices. Like demons that lurk in the background - incidental results of the human emotions - they are not immediately noticeable. This interplay between words, breathing and occasional distant voices, is meant to create a tension (caused by experiencing an entire life at a glance) and to stir the interest and hopefully the imagination of the listener.

2014© A. Pasoulas