Eric Skytterholm Egan | on Breath and Motion

(2014) | Full Score

List of Works


Human existence, indeed the universe as we see it, is concerned with the notion of opposing poles and the movement between them. This proto-dialectical perspective suffuses our entire sense of being. We perceive everything through the interaction of complementary, yet disparate states: energy and mass, heat and cold, light and darkness, future and past, matter and antimatter.

Our own societies are often governed by similar binary principles: the political left versus right, progressive versus regressive, growth versus recession, and so on. Those of us that live on this planet are seen to be either rich or poor, sick or in health, in motion or at rest.

In a sense the way we see the world is merely a projection of the physical space we occupy; our bodies are controlled by our orientation in space, and a series of movements in time, between the internal and the external; we internalise what we need and externalise what we do not - from our food and drink, to the air we breathe. Our manner of reproduction mirrors this cycle perfectly - from the external to the internal, and back again, both in the act and in the process.

We exist in a constant flux between one state and the other, in a dimension of expansion and contraction, work and relaxation, tension and release. This notion is also clear in our music. Since the beginning of recorded time, music has reflected our place in the world - its fabric has always been that of motion between a state of tension and one of release; the latter signified by a return to familiar ground, a resolved cadence, or perhaps a timbral or conceptual sense of teleology or renewed proximity. This conceptual notion of binary motion mirrors the most intrinsic human function, breathing.

In on Breath and Motion I have worked with the idea of macrocosm and microcosmos, of tension and release, of purity and distortion, of sound and silence. This is reflected from the smallest scale, between a G# and an A in the accordion, to largest, in the construction of material, timbre, and structure.

For some time notiong happened. The young man's chest rose and fell. The pallor of his cheeks suffused with red. I became aware of a regular noise, half hiss and half click. It was the leather valves of the apparatus. In the stillness they sounded like the opening and closure of iron gates.

Richard Gordon - The Sleep of Life

The muscles in my stomach... tightened and relxed at a regular pace. One-two, one-two, one-two. But every time I came close to climax and release, the fingers slowed down, stilled completely, until I was down on the the ground again.

Jens Bjørneboe - Uten en tråd

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