Program notes for Rob Waring's "Flow, Influence, Essence"

This piece for solo vibraphone and live electronics is dedicated to the Swedish percussion soloist Hasse Örn, who commissioned it with support from the Nordic Music Committee. It was composed in 1993 and received its premier in Oslo in 1998, performed by Hans-Kristian Kjos Sørensen.

Rob Waring has attempted to reflect extra-musical ideas in many of his compositions. The following thoughts form the point of departure for "Flow, Influence, Essence":  We find ourselves in a continuous flux of change and chance. Does there exist any underlying core or essence beneath the apparently random, turbulent surface?

Some answer yes, that it exists, but we must unveil it.  (Compare to Auguste Rodin's statement: "I do not shape the block of stone, I only remove all of the stone which is not a part of the sculpture, so that the sculpture comes forth.")  Some answer no, that the perception of the individual is a selective filter which creates relations and meaning.  (The block of stone contains an infinite number of possible sculptures.)

The composer attempts to mirror the question in a musical world.  A Markov chain (probability system) is used to generate a wandering, random stream of notes.  This stream is subjected to a number of different processes and becomes totally transformed.  The composer admits that he is not sure whether he discovered (i.e. unveiled) the final result by means of the compositional processes employed, or chose the processes in order to achieve (i.e. create) a desired final result.