Robert van Heumen Composer Improvisor Laptop-Instrumentalist Sound-Designer
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Coma is a composition for the band Spoon3, consisting of Jodi Gilbert (voice), Albert van Veenendaal (piano), Meinrad Kneer (acoustic bass) and myself on laptop-instrument. The idea was formed already in 2011, but never materialized. A strong bassline, a stumbling piano rhythm, an electronic treatment of this rhythm and a trance-like delivery of selected texts from the book The Coma by Alex Garland. The first version, presented to an audience at the Amsterdam Bimhuis, was a big learning experience for me. Everything was fully written out, full of irregular meters and odd jumps. Not taking into account that I was dealing with experienced improvisors who could be trusted with the task of creating a stumbling rhythm by themselves. Instead I let them read the whole thing, which made the piece very hard to perform after only 2 rehearsals, and which made it sound very much like a struggle. Luckily we realized this during the second rehearsal, and decided to have the piano create the rhythm as improvisation. This worked much better, but still the piece would have benifitted from a couple more rehearsals. Or even better: a couple of concerts in a row. Unfortunately it is not easy to find opportunities to perform with this group.

Lesson number one: when composing always write with the performers in mind. Or course you can push players out of their comfort zone a bit, but don't try to fit an elephant in your skipass pocket.