MUTU ensemble (Nutshuis, The Hague, 30.9.2016)
For ensemble (open instrumentation). The musicians alternate playing as soloists and as a group while moving between different locations on stage. The version performed by ensemble MUTU (above) also include voices but without any prescribed text, resulting in a pseudo, open-for-interpretation language.
has(b)ara is characterised by a constant movement between free improvisation and pre-composed material. The latter gradually dissolves into emergent, real-time musical structures; and vice versa, the musicians are sometimes instructed to “collect” the musical freedom into prescribed (notated) material and abandon their improvisatory paths. Read here→ a dissertation chapter dedicated to this work and a discussion of the concepts behind it.
The title has(b)ara comes from the Hebrew Hasbara (“explanation” or “act of explanation”). This is also the name of the department of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for communicating the policies and actions of the state of Israel to the media abroad (“government-philanthropic joint venture, which was supposed to combat the BDS movement, as a semi-governmental arm outside of abroad,” 3/8/2022 The Jerusalem Post https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/article-713678)
Pro-Israel propaganda has become an important issue in the last decade, especially since the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict which was followed by strong international criticism of the actions of the Israeli army. The act of Hasbara has also been suggested as an individual responsibility of any Israeli citizen abroad: to explain and justify the actions of the government in an effort to block the supposedly non-understanding and hostile and environment often described by Israeli officials as “antisemitic.” The Israeli Hasbara is thus regarded as an essential tool for gaining international acceptance, a non-lethal weapon in the fight against the Palestinian and Arab world, who, at the same time try to influence public opinion from their side.
has(b)ara was commissioned by the Israeli ensemble Musica Nova Consort →. In the initial version, the work also included real-time processing of audio samples with strong political connotations. Among others, I used the voice of Asa Kasher, a renowned Israeli philosopher and a strong advocate for the right of Israel to defend itself by using militarily force and for the policies of the government in this matter; and, from the other side of the political map, the voice of Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an Israeli Orthodox Jewish intellectual, who, to many on the left, functions almost as a prophet-like figure because of his clear and uncompromising voice, since as early as 1967, against the Israeli occupation.
has(b)ara was composed from the viewpoint that musicians could, and should, take positions in debates concerning moral issues. Written after the massive destruction that Gaza suffered from the Israeli bombing in 2014, the piece aimed to transmit an unambiguous message by using materials that contained direct references to actual political issues. The “voices” of the musicians are masked by the electronic sounds (sidechaining the progress of the digital “playhead” that processes the voice sample with the live signal of the musicians). The result: instead of playing continuously, the samples stagger and the original sentences and words are sliced into smaller particles, directly triggered by the musician’s gestures. The division of the ensemble to group and soloists refers to the supposed individual responsibility to contribute to the collective propaganda machine by functioning as an active voice. And finally, the way in which this responsibility should be discharged is represented by the constant deconstruction of notated structures into free improvisation, literally disassembling the original notated message.