Robert van Heumen Composer Improvisor Laptop-Instrumentalist Sound-Designer
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A Short Piece of Decay
A Short Piece of Decay is a composition by Robert van Heumen for blockflutes, panflutes, viola, accordion, percussion and live electronics.
A Short Piece of Decay is about the process of cooking a dish from basic ingredients that is subsequently being devoured.

From 'What is life?' (1944) by Erwin Schrödinger:
"How does the living organism avoid decay? The obvious answer is: by eating, drinking, breathing and (in the case of plants) assimilating. The technical term is metabolism. What is that precious something contained in our food which keeps us from death? That is easily answered. Every process, event, happening (call it what you will; in a word, everything that is going on in Nature) means an increase of the entropy of the part of the world where it is going on. Thus a living organism continually increases its entropy (or, as you may say, produces positive entropy) and thus tends to approach the dangerous state of maximum entropy, which is of death. It can only keep aloof from it (i.e. alive), by continually drawing from its environment negative entropy -which is something very positive as we shall immediately see. What an organism feeds upon is negative entropy. Or, to put it less paradoxically, the essential thing in metabolism is that the organism succeeds in freeing itself from all the entropy it cannot help producing while alive."

A Short Piece of Decay was premiered at the Summerwinds Münsterland festival in Lingen (Germany) on July 6 2014. Below is a short excerpt.

From a review in the Osnabrücker Zeitung:
"Die zweite Uraufführung galt Robert van Heumens Komposition „A Short Piece of Decay“, das zunächst zugespielte Geräusche (eindeutig aus der Küche) bereithielt. Der Deckel wird auf eine bratende Pfanne gelegt. Die dabei entstehenden Geräusche werden vom Ensemble instrumental kommentiert. Es entsteht ein überaus imposantes Stück mit groovigen Elementen und erkennbarer Verwandtschaft zu elektronischer Popmusik. Ein fantasievolles Werk, packend, einnehmend und voller Energie [...]"

Englisch translation:
"The second premiere was Robert van Heumen's composition 'A Short Piece of Decay', that contained recorded sounds which clearly originated from the kitchen. The lid is put on the frying pan and the ensemble comments on these sounds. This results in an impressive piece with groovy elements, clearly influenced by electronic popmusic. A imaginative work, enthralling, engaging and full of energy."

A Short Piece of Decay is a continuation of a train of thought that has also produced the compositions The First Law of Kipple (2012) and Stranger (2008). Composition by decomposition. Further reading: 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' by Robert M. Pirsig and 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' by Philip K. Dick.

Commissioned by the Black Pencil ensemble and written under a composition stipend from the Performing Arts Fund NL.

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