Forbidden Languages- Andrew Ball



Forbidden Languages is a suite for solo saxophones, comprising a body of work composed and recorded between 2015 - 2017. Each stand-alone ‘movement’ is informed by an arcane aspect of symbolism or mythology, within the broader context of language as an abstract, imaginary, irrational, ephemeral concept. The mission of this work is to push the capabilities of the performer, to blur the line between composition, improvisation and experimentation, to challenge the technical and expressive limits of the instrument, and to inspire further experimentation with the saxophone. These recordings utilise various approaches to multi-layered texture, extended techniques, and unique physical preparations; all are captured live, with no overdubs. 

This music is simultaneously an abstraction and representation of language, containing the impression of narrative, inflection and syntax. Here, music/language, in it’s broader meaning, explores the concept of language as gesture, language as song, language as memory, language as states of being, language as data and information, language as remnants of history, language as dialogue, language evidencing ephemerality. At the same time, of course, one could consider the music to be language; each piece (whether improvised or explicitly notated) is constructed with an individual, self contained sonic palette through physical preparation, syntax, inflection, and broader structural architecture. 

Each piece's micro-structural devices and gestural character are inextricably linked with the mechanical and acoustic idiosyncrasies of the saxophone. Musical syntax is built through intuitive exploitation of the saxophone’s particular quirks and capabilities (layered harmonics, digital patterns, multiphonic sounds, tonal and articulation effects). Sonic artefacts resulting from extraneous and unintentional sound in performance are embraced as an essential (and occasionally serendipitous) part of the music’s texture. A curious contradiction is that most of these ‘languages’ are intended to sound very little like the saxophone stylistically or tonally, yet, at the same time, the function of the instrument (in a literal sense) is of course deeply inherent in the entire compositional process. 

An eclectic variety of folk, jazz and electronic music influences are injected throughout the suite. While the majority of the music is fully notated, many elements of the music also necessitate an element of spontaneity and personal interpretation on both a large and small scale, whether through loosely directed textural extemporisation, ad-libbed form, intuitive non-specific inflection, or free phrasing. These languages are ‘spoken’ through both the voice of a composer and of a performer. Forbidden Languages aims to inspire the listener to completely reimagine their concept of the saxophone’s function and aesthetic, and to translate their own meaning within the music.

Andrew Ball- Saxophones and Compositions