Things are lazy but want to be free

for seven percussionists

dur. ca. 13'

Commissioned by Arte no Tempo

Premiered December 30, 2023

Festival Itinerante de Percussão 2023, Castelo Branco

Cartaz FIP

This piece joins the rich tra­di­tion of non-spe­cial­ized lit­er­a­ture abus­ing the con­cept of entropy”. But it does so with the hope of pro­vid­ing a fair­er read­ing — just like all oth­ers have sure­ly tried.

We do not feel entropy as a phys­i­cal quan­ti­ty, unlike grav­i­ty (which makes our bones weigh), fric­tion (which makes our bones hurt) or ener­gy and force (which makes us move what remains of our bones). Still — or pre­cise­ly because of this — entropy as a metaphor seems to inspire more than all these oth­er con­cepts. Every­one knows that entropy is chaos and dis­or­der. Worse: every­one knows that dis­or­der only increas­es, that chaos only spreads. Every­one knows that it is the sec­ond law of ther­mo­dy­nam­ics (although few peo­ple know what exact­ly ther­mo­dy­nam­ics might be). The fullest pic­ture is not this sim­ple, of course. If that were the case, how could we explain biol­o­gy, which takes pre­cise­ly dis­or­ga­nized mat­ter and recon­sti­tutes it into com­plex organizations?

A bet­ter account of entropy would then be: in how many dif­fer­ent ways can we recon­struct the same com­plex whole from its con­stituent parts? How does a prob­a­ble bal­ance emerge from chaos (whether the word is under­stood in its most col­lo­qui­al, philo­soph­i­cal or tech­ni­cal mean­ings)? This has been, in fact, the dri­ving ques­tion behind much of my recent pro­duc­tion, espe­cial­ly in the pieces that make use of alea. How to design sys­tems that absorb a cer­tain type of ener­gy — or what ener­gy is expressed in a cer­tain type of systems?

The sounds of this piece, orga­nized along the deic­tic axes of sev­er­al Greimas squares, are in per­ma­nent ten­sion — some­thing that the sub­ject does not usu­al­ly like, as the read­er’s expect­ed reac­tion to the pre­vi­ous sen­tence can attest to. This ten­sion releas­es more and more ener­gy, which frees itself from the struc­tures that con­tained it and is left inca­pable of work. The play’s dra­matur­gy then stages a con­stant recon­fig­u­ra­tion of musi­cal tex­ture and ges­ture — of the envi­ron­ment in which they exist — in order to res­cue life from the chaos of freedom.