Music for Botany

Music for Botany (2010) is now published and available from Bachovich Music Publications. This is an original work of mine and part of a project to place folkloric instruments in a contemporary musical idiom. Music for Botany is for maracas, caxixí, and pre-recorded audio. As the name may imply, it is modeled after Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood. Read my notes from the score and my doctoral thesis excerpt to understand the relationship to Reich’s work while maintaining musical styles of Venezuela. This piece was included as part of the PASIC 2013 Listening Room in Indianapolis and now has been added to the PASIC Archives. This work exists as a solo version and an ensemble version (1 pair of maracas and 4 pairs of caxixí) if you prefer a chamber setting. As requested, I made an explanation video to help understand how to play the caxixí and maraca parts. You can find the video below. If you have any more questions about this piece and/or the techniques required for playing these instruments, please contact me and I’ll do my best to help. Photo taken by Susan Jacob.

Listen to a 3 minute excerpt:


Notes from the score:

I chose the name “Music for Botany” as a direct correlation to Steve Reich’s “Music for Pieces of Wood.” The structure of this piece [MfB] is obviously very similar to Reich’s piece, but all the components of MFPOW have been replaced by shakers (entirely made of plant materials). The two different instruments used (maracas and caxixí) are a blending of their corresponding countries (Venezuela and Brazil). The word “botany” is a latin root of “botánica” and “botânica” therefore a common ground of two languages. At the beginning is the Venezuelan merengue pattern played on maracas which gradually resolves to the joropo pattern during the last structural section. The caxixí are very capable of creating punctual accents and are used as the additive devices.

Doctoral thesis excerpt:

“In Music for Botany, the time modulation moves from five to four to three. Although the same process occurs with rhythmic compression and intensive activity, the important element is the shift from merengue to joropo; or from the Brazilian caxixí to the Venezuelan maracas. The merengue pattern played by the maracas is soon covered up by the 3+2+1+2 accent pattern heard in the caxixí. This tends to negate the maraca part giving the emphasis to the caxixí and a non-Venezuelan musical style. Throughout the course of the piece, the instruments gravitate towards rhythmic patterns that exist in a joropo.

The ambiguity of two or three (6/8, 3/4) is strong in joropo and one of the fascinating elements of the melody. Because of this phenomenon, it gently lends itself to aural ambiguities when listening to minimalism, especially in the vein of Steve Reich, and particularly, Music for Pieces of Wood. This is essentially what happens during the resultant patterns of the three-eight sections from Music for Botany (figure 4.11). The phenomenon is approached from different perspectives – different customs – and the boundary that once was thought to exist, now becomes only a matter of point of view and interpretation.”