Flute, viola, harp

UA: 11/8/1998, Stedelijk Museum, Amterdam, (Ensemble Alternance)

NUBA was composed in 1998 at the request of Jean-Luc MENET. The piece is the second one of an ‘arabian’ trilogy (the first one is QADAR, 1997).

The title refers to one of the happiest episodes of our medieval history. The arabian musician Sirjab, who joined the court of Abd-ar-Rachman’s II in Cordoba (Andalusia) in 822, introduced not only the most refined arabic music to that court and founded the first European Conservatory of Music, he also developed what could be called the first form of ‘independent’ music of our history, the nuba, a kind of instrumental (and by time and while vocal) five part suite.

This new formal structure has been described in detail in the writings of al-Farabi, al-Kindi and other important arabic music theorists.

The choice of three instruments (harp, viola, flute) reflects to a certain respect the intense collaboration of jewish, arabic and christian philosophers, scientists and artists who, in an atmosphere of utmost tolerance and curiosity have contributed to the development of that fascinating culture of el-Andaluz which later on became the cradle of our European culture.

There is no ‘historic’ reference in NUBA; the piece is not ‘folkloristic’ at all. The old arabic ‘ornaments’ (the ‘arabesques’) have been translated into one single continuous texture. The only concrete source of inspiration have been the writings by arabic music theorists concerning the concept of ‘additive’ rhythmical structures.

NUBA should be performed in an extremely light, flexible manner.

You can download the score here: Nuba.pdf