Ficciones, Concerto for Electric Violin and Orchestra

By Roberto Sierra

I first read Jorge Luis Borges’ short story El Aleph when I was a student at the University of Puerto Rico. The paradox of a point of light where one could see the totality of everything simultaneously was a moment of revelation to me. In El Aleph what seems empirically impossible is possible. In this first movement I composed dissimilar sections and gestures that only when the movement concludes they are perceived as forming a totality and belonging together. The differences are subsumed by the strict use of pitch content governed by four modular scales. Borges’ short story is a metaphor for what I always believed: we comprehend musical form only when the totality of the musical content is absorbed. 

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius is a profoundly philosophical story that describes the existence of a planet called Tlön. In this strange world, with an ontological structure based on philosophical idealism, there are poems created by just one enormous word, and all that exists is just a pure creation of the mind. How is the music of Tlön? My answer is: if the note C is present at all moments, any chord, melody, or rhythm can happen. The only way to write music in Tlön is by the omnipresence of C! 

In La casa de Asterión Borges rewrites the myth of the minotaur. The desperate life of Asterión is ended by Theseus, who, in a surprising Borgean turn of events, tells Ariadne that the minotaur did not fight back. Here I constructed a musical labyrinth that starts with all the 12 chromatic pitches that are gradually dropped until only ethereal noise remains. 

In Borges’ The Immortal, Marco Flaminio Rufo was a Roman military tribune who, after drinking from a river, becomes immortal. He ends up tragically roaming the world in search of the waters of another river that can make him mortal again. The perpetual motion of this movement ends in exuberance, perhaps just as Flaminio felt when he recovered his mortality.