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Arnulf Herrmann: Hard Boiled Variations

15 ½ cycles for ensemble and dance


Dance is a movement that is felt,
more precisely, a movement that is constructed in such a way that it is felt.
(Viktor Sklovsky, Theory of Prose)


If you have everything under control, you are still not going fast enough.
(Tom Peters)


In Hard Boiled Variations, a cycle of five parts is repeated a total of fifteen(-and-a-half) times. The first run lasts five minutes, the shortest just three seconds, and finally only a single beat remains. So the speed increases more than a hundredfold.

Two things are at the center of this: On the one hand, the piece is about different facets of acceleration or the different ways to create the impression of acceleration. On the other hand, it is at the same time also about a play of proximity and distance or sharpness and blurriness. The reference to visual perception or the fine arts is quite intentional: comparable to a gradual receding from a canvas, the details fade with increasing distance (or acceleration)and the superordinate contours come to the fore, until finally only the overall impression of the picture remains recognizable. All details disappear in favour of a global impression. Thus, at the end point, the frenzied speed also tips back into its opposite: it stands still.

Movement congeals into image, experience congeals into perception, and time literally becomes space.

Hard Boiled Variations is conceived as a dance piece. From the beginning, the musical material was conceived from movement forms, but without specifying an interpretation. This also includes the possibility of a purely musical performance, focusing solely on the movement and acceleration processes within the music. The performance in Stuttgart is a premiere in this respect.

(Arnulf Herrmann)