Work for ensemble (open instrumentation). The version performed by ensemble MUTU (below) also features singers however without any prescribed text, thus resulting in an open-for-interpretation pseudo language. The musicians alternate between playing as soloists and as a group, moving between different locations on stage.
At the center of this work is the constant and gradual movement between free improvisation and pre-composed material. The latter gradually dissolves while emergent, real-time musical structures are formed; and vice versa, the musicians are asked to depart from their improvisatory paths and “collect” their freedom into prescribed notation, thus surrendering to the composition’s “demand” for stability. For more details about this conceptual and musical movement, read here a chapter of my dissertation dedicated to this work.
MUTU ensemble, 30.9.2016 (Nutshuis, The Hague)
hasBara work was originally commissioned by Musica Nova consort (IL):
has(b)ara, Musica Nova Consort at hateiva, Tel-Aviv – Jaffa, February 2015. (This version of the work has the subtitle propaganda)
The title 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 the 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 composed at the invitation of the Israeli ensemble Musica Nova Consort. In the first version of the piece, the work also included real-time processing of audio samples that carry 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 (by sidechaining the control of the digital “playhead” that processes the sample with the input of the musicians playing their instruments). 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 into group and soloists refers to the individual responsibility of each citizen to contribute his or her effort 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.