Albert Llanas Rich

Albert Llanas Rich: Compositions, awards, biography and more about the catalan composer

JEP NUIX, Analytical approach to his work

(English translation in progress)

Jep Nuix was born in 1955 in Barcelona and was transferred prematurely on 26 April 1998. His creative career frames him as one of the central figures of the generation considered throughout this monograph. Even endowed with a very exceptional personality, which will exude in his music giving his work an unprecedented singularity in the rest of his generation mates. In addition, his activity was not only limited to musical composition, acting as a performer of contemporary music (Grup Instrumental Phonos i de Vol ad Libitum), music and sound technician (Companyia Ínfima La Puça, for those who also composed the music of five of his shows, TV3) and as a teacher. Between 1988 and 1991 he was the coordinator of the sound and music laboratory of the Centre for Initiatives and Experimentation for Young People of the Caixa de Pensions Foundation, where he participated in the training of this centre and as a teacher. He also acted as a soloist performing his own works, duet with the percussionist Fede Giberga, and with the also flutist Oriol Rigau and the percussionist Ferran Armengol.

As a composer he wrote about sixty works, for all kinds of formations: from instruments to solo, through chamber music, pure and mixed electroacoustics, live electronica, string orchestra, symphony, symphony with soloist and live electronica. He also wrote music for theatre, dance, video, etc. (see annex catalog )

He was awarded several composition prizes: second prize in the 2nd Polyphony Works Competition (1982, “Gloria”, for mixed choir and seven metals); first prize in the IV Polifonia Competition of Works (1984, “In Effect”, for four mixed choirs); second prize in the Ferran Sors Prize for the National Theatre and Dance Awards (1985, “Helmints”‘ for chamber ensemble and magnetic tape); selected in the 8º Concorso Internazionale “Luigi Russolo” by Giovani Compositori di Musica Elettroacustica e Informatica Musicale ‘ in Varese, Italy (1986, “L’Inizio” for flute and magnetic tape); mention of the 6th Barcelona Young Composers Competition (1986, “Exchange” for tenor and piano); selected in the 17ème. Concours International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges, France (1989, “Monologue” for magnetic tape); first prize of the 10th prize. Competition of Young Composers of Musical Youth of Barcelona (1989, “-4º a Allschwil” for chamber ensemble); Inf-ART’90 Award from the Caixa de Pensions Foundation for the best music work (1990, “His Master’s Voice” for magnetic tape); selected to represent Spain in the grandstand of the International Society of Contemporary Music in Segovia, Poland (1992, “Fax” for chamber ensemble).

He received commissions from numerous specialised interpreters (Barcelona 216, Vol ad Libitum, Orquestra de Cambra del Teatre Lliure, Grup Interinstrumental de Barcelona, Corrado Canonici, Albert Nieto, Anna Ricci, Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, Joan Izquierdo and Pilar Subirà, Fu-Mon Flutes Quartet, among others) and institutions (CDMC, Fundació Caixa de Pensions, Festival de Peralada, Festival de Torroella de Montgrí , Dramatic Centre of the Generalitat, Barcelona City Council, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat City Council, etc.).

He also received scholarships from the Ministry of Culture, the Instituto de la Juventud, the Phonos Foundation and the CIRIT of the Generalitat de Catalunya. The latter allowed him to be a member during a course in the electronic music studio of the Conservatory of Basel (Switzerland). He was invited to participate in the 33rd. Ferienkurse für Neue Musik’ (Darmstadt, Germany).

The monographic record (Jep Nuix, “Intervals”) includes works from 1986 to 1994 (“L’Inizio”, “Monologue”, “Resonanzen für Elisabeth”, “His Master’s Voice”, “Improvisation for Tubes”, “Riflessi” and “Tonightingale”), while other works (“Gloria”, “In Effect”, “Voilà”; “His Master’s Voice”, “Weightlifting I”, “Thinking of Nono”, “Self-Portrait-1”, “Fax”, “Escac i mat”, “Finger by finger, step by step” and “Dot by point”) have been recorded on discs in the company of other composers.

His works have been performed in numerous concerts and international festivals in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the ex-Yugoslavia, Denmark, Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, the United States and Canada.

He was a member of the Catalan Composers Association since 1983 (of which he was a member of the board of directors for a time), and founder and member of the board of directors of the Spanish Electroacoustic Music Association. He was part of the group of composers Grupo del Bierzo (group emerged in the Courses of Villafranca del Bierzo of 1985 and formed by Jacobo Durán Loriga, Pedro Guajardo, José Manuel López López, Enrique X. Macias and Albert García Demestres).

From his training time, he studied flute, viola, piano, harmony and counterpoint at the Conservatori Superior Municipal de Música de Barcelona, and composition and instrumentation with Gabriel Brncic. In 1981 he began to compose electroacoustic music and music computing with Gabriel Brncic y Lluïs Callejo at the Phonos Electroacoustic Music Laboratory in Barcelona, where he became part of the group of regular composers of the laboratory.

He attended courses and seminars with Luigi Nono, Coriún Aharonián, Thomas Kessler, Gerald Bennett, Heinz Holliger, Cristóbal Halffter, Luis de Pablo, Carmelo A. Bernaola, Tomás Marco, Joan Guinjoan and Josep Mª Mestres Quadreny, among others. He also received advice from Witold Lutoslawski.

Among his teachers Nuix acknowledges having received a major influence from Brncic and Nono. Nuix’s production began in the early 1980s and his stylistic profile has been perfectly described by Carles Lobo: “… Imagination, originality, intuition: three concepts almost immanipulable from reason, from the conscious. This is how Jep Nuix creates his music from materials emerging from everyday experience, from his innate curiosity and often of scientific and calculated appearance; once defined, the materials are transformed later, with absolute freedom and in an evolutionary sense (one idea generates another) resulting from a healthy unconscious, almost unknown, imaginative, intuitive and surprising …./… Nuix recreates himself as much in each note, in each chord, in each of the details he writes and, without realising it, his hidden sensitivity flows towards a final idea that is not spectacular or, apparently, predefined. The path is always ascending, although not rectilinear, and in each corner there are new transformations of the original materials that offer new and multiple possibilities in front of which that intuitive and sensitive unconscious chooses one, leaves the others and so on towards an end found on the fly and by exhaustion.”

In this context spoken of form or structural plan results unconventional and even inadequate. The natural linearity of Nuix’s music makes any formal approach much better understood from this idea of constant evolution of those initial materials and their perpetual variation, from the definition of the starting point, the development strategies and the end: “The simplicity of the generating idea and its natural elaboration endow the work with a great unitary sense where the timbre , texture and rhythm become the main azimuths of a discourse apparently exempt from melodic treatment (in the traditional sense of the concept)” .

Nuix’s style will remain unalters significant throughout his production. This is one of the great merits of the author and a fact that differentiates him from the more than other contemporary musicians: to hear a work by Nuix is to recognize something singular and own, unique in a way that gives his work together a stylistic value of recognizing the most immediate in the listener. Although Nuix especially cultivated the small-format genres (“Spirals”, “Lin” and the “Sterilized Concerto” are the only orchestral incursions) whether chamber or electronic its imprint remains in all of them as a seal of authenticity. Regarding the methods or techniques that he has most regularly used the use of rhythmic ostinatti and minimal intervalic derivations, together with canonical dialogues and variations of tymbric and textural order, are the most characteristic (as shown below in the section of specific analysis of some of his compositions). As Nuix himself comments: “In my music the evocation of memory usually exists only, as a memory of some specific fact that serves to reaffirm this evolutionary sense, but in no case as thematic work. This evolutionary sense (which I regard as a mirror of life itself) is a constant in my works. There are also constant certain random, indeterminate, open or flexible characteristics where the performer can feel more fluid or free, more creative or more recreational. Even so, I treat each work in an absolutely different and singular way.

For Nuix “music is a vehicle for the expression of feelings or desires of a musical nature only, not of any other kind”. He defines himself as a rather atonal musician who does not try to transgress anything, at least voluntarily. Simultaneously practice electroacoustic music and instrumental or acoustic music. He explains that the difference between the two lies in the fact that instrumental music depends on interpretation, when the work takes on its own life and where it is revealed with all its details and aspects that are impossible to reflect within the patterned role: the work is and exists only in each interpretation. On the other hand, in electroacoustic music you know immediately what is the exact sound result if we leave aside the aspects related to the sound diffusion in space. The composer has a direct auditory contact with the materials with which he works and gives a recording with the definitive result of his work. The work is finished.

“The computer is another medium, a less limited instrument than traditional instruments…/… Technology and communication make influences immediate. The range is wider and the trends are not labelled.”

“I believe that electroacoustic music abbreviated some horizontes riquísimos . It is so much said that the composer is endeared to a white page, in electroacoustic music is that he does not tienes or eso. Tienes that invent their own instruments and the possible dysmbricas are amplísimas”. Some posibilities that, según the composer, condition the way of trabajar, “of modo que cuando te enfrentas to acoustic instruments, always estaempre estando la froma that sweat in another way”. (…) “I do not have the feeling of being haciendo experimental music, because I have always had claro el sonido que que quería. What happens is that I do not always encuentras or in the camino encuentras otro”. Nuix defines itself to whether I mismo “as a musician who has not conceived. Bequeath to the public, por descontado muy nice, but esta no es intention. The intention is otra: soy yo quien sale hacia fuera to show something”.

One of the aspects that Nuix defended on more than one occasion has been what should be the right conditions for the dissemination of contemporary music. His conviction was that the phenomenon of the concerto is obsolete for current music and that new mechanisms of public communication should be sought since its characteristics are also different.

Regarding the attitude of programmers to the crisis of acceptance of contemporary music in our country, he believed that they try to disguise programming by believing that there is a tendency towards the convergence of music from different backgrounds: classical-contemporary, jazz, popular, rock, since it is a way of interesting the public, but that this only responds to commercial interests and that it does not correspond to the reality of the present.

“Contemporary music festivals are a good example of the coexistence of musical genres under one roof. This mix responds to a business need to re-sell the concept of “contemporary music”, which currently has few commercial outlets. Contemporary music has been called for 50 years, only to the music we are making. However, when a Contemporary Music Festival is held, it is known that it will not have much audience response. Then they take a bigger spectrum of music and can say they have triumphed more. It’s a pure commercial question of programmers, not people who make music. … I’m not fooled. Do they deceive someone or deceive themselves programmers?….. In fact, all music evolves, but they don’t come together.” …/….”Not only has marketing transformed music. The technological revolution led to the emergence of electroacoustic music, which at first seemed to end traditional composition for instruments. Jep Nuix argues that this is not a new musical genre. For me electroacoustic and instrumental music are within the same field, because the first is often fed by instruments and is itself a medium, not an aesthetic. It is another instrument, with wider possibilities.”

On the motivations that led him to write music alludes to the inner need:

“Componer will project personality. I believe that composition is a proyección of personality itself. Yo soy así, como mis piezas.”

A good example of this sense of humour that characterized Nuix’s personality is the answer he gave when questioned about the concept of inspiration: “The other day I heard the poet Miquel de Palol say that inspiration was the date why you had been asked for a job and that I really liked. You actually have good and bad days. In my works I always suffer a crisis more or less around minute 4 or 5.”

Commented analysis of certain aspects of Jep Nuix’s w
ork:To show the most characteristic features of Nuix’s writing technique we will refer to comparative aspects of various works.” Voilà” and “Helmints” are two compositions dated respectively in May and October 1985. “Voilà” is a string trio that shows us the concept of symmetry as a generating element of the work, applied in this case to harmony. Nuix introduces symmetrical chords (the same ascending and descending intervals from a central axis). The work begins with a unison of Ligetian reminiscences on note re3 with fp (common note strategically placed within the register of the three instruments (violin, viola and cello). This proceeding generates a characteristic sound space where the derivation of small cells made with chords with equidistant intervals that return again and again to note re3 becomes the constructive strategy of the composition.

We will point out three remarkable features. First the use of a graphic writing avoids the traditional metric. Indeed, the measure with the exception of the brief central “ostinatto” section is absent. It is precisely here, in this more rhythmic part (from afar reminiscent of the Kammerkonzert of Ligeti) where we find this aftertaste for the isorrítmies of Nuix, while in the conclusion section Nuix explores the timbre of the sound set (gettato col-legno). The work will end with a return to the polar note made from a sinuous and singular curve that makes each of the instruments converge towards the re3 .

The following illustration shows an outline of the first section of the piece:

The rigorous use of symmetries is reflected in the following schemes of the sections that we have bounded with the letters A to E. A Note re3 is enveloped by a set of sounds within a scope of 7 semitones (yes – fa), coinciding with the 7 notes it uses.

In B we witness a dilation of the record by intervalic expansion from the interval of half tone (1, 11) extended an eighth. The symmetrical order of the ranges is as follows: 1, 8, 2, 1.

Otherwise the number of sound occurrences is 11.

C shows a flowering movement of order 2 (two semitones) constructed again from a symmetrical chord (relationships 6, 11 from the central note)

D is an extension by melodic expansion (double blooms) of C .

While both E presents an almost literal replica of D in which it is produce delays in the driving of the voices.

After a central section, the same strategy is followed by introducing greater melodic mobility enhanced by the canonical imitation that ends up giving predominance to the Arabesques of the viola that are resolved on a note in tenuto (re3) counterpointed by the pizz. of the violin and the cello. The work closes with a third section divided into two parts. The first is a stubbornness of cohouses built on the same inter-disabled material.

The second is a replica where quick notes are concentrated at the beginning (col-legno battuto) to rest later on a long note.

Nuix defines this score as “a flexible music in tension” where the cadential process is determined by this dialectic of distance and symmetrical approximations to the polar note (re3).

“Helmints” is a mixed work for chamber group (Fl, Cl, Fg, Vi, Vla, Vc) and magnetic tape.

We want to highlight certain aspects that present proximities with which we have just commented in relation to “Voilà”. Here Nuix introduces a part of tape containing a severe pedal-shaped isochrome pulsation that will be developed following an expansion process similar to the one described above. The tape also contains conglomerates of random sounds that appear punctually and are the ones that give title to the composition

(because of the free association Nuix makes with helminths, a kind of intestinal worms).

The instrumental part is a sinuous melody initially sung by the flute in the grave record. See how the same intervalic expansion procedure is followed, in this case on the note alone3. A “baroque garlic” ornamentation with auxiliary notes top and bottom at half-pitch distance serves as a basic motif. In each new replica half more tone is added until reaching the newt in the sixth. (Annex 1: Scanned example of the score)

This gives way to the entry of the rest of the wooden instruments (Cl. and Fg) which in the form of an echo make the transported replica of the initial cell of the flute. Then there is a rhythmic compression that concentrates the melysmatic material in a harmonic texture composed of lines (long notes). The work continues to freely develop these materials as shown in the illustration. (Annex 2: two examples of the part. P. 3 & 4)

We have been able to grasp how both compositions present great proximity of procedures. We can see how in works written years later Nuix stays true to this way of working. For example in “Persecutions” (Fl, Ob, Cl, Horn, Fg and Pno) of 1993, we find a fusion of symmetrical developments, rhythmic stubbornness and melodic derivations always on perfect and consonant intervals as it also happens in the piano piece “Escac i mat” of the same year where the use of pure sonority (perfect consonances of 4th and 5th) is the element that gives the composition a characteristic sonority.

In “Persecutions” we find this more elaborate, richer material. Nuix reaches creative maturity at this time and gives us works such as “Tonightingale” (flute, clarinet, violin and cello, 1994), and higher bill as “Riflessi” of the previous year (1992), for chamber orchestra where the use of a repeated note eight times becomes the structural seed of all composition, and especially the two orchestral pieces “Lin” (1993) and “Spirals” (1994).

The material used in “Persecutions” starts again from the idea of rhythmic stubbornness on a pulsation of x , articulated in canonical form as shown below:

This rhythmic sequence is presented on the note mi4 (note on which Nuix seems to have a preference since it also uses it at the beginning of “Riflessi”, “Lin” , “Spirals” and the “Sterilized Concert” ) and then go modifying by contractions and dilations. From the harmonic point of view a procedure based on symmetries (mov. contrary) cleverly designed from minimum movements always derived from the semitone reappears. At each resumption, and after a pause (usually a measure of silence) the degree of complexity is growing and progresively an exploration of the intervalic space is achieved and consequently the instrumental register. The growth process (see the following illustration) denotes fractal behavior from minimal movement in the upper auxiliary note (half tone).

As in a game of naips discovered, so far Nuix has shown us his cards. We arrive at the essay letter B after repeating once again the initial sequence of x (now at a greater distance between the entries: four beats) a long development (rehearsal letter C) begins in entries in canonical form and that will no longer stop until the conclusion of the piece.

Regarding the symphonic side, Nuix has left us three scores “Lin” (1993) for string orchestra, “Espirals” (1994) and the “Sterilized Concerto” (1991) for Flute of solo bec and live electronica. The “Sterilized Concerto” is chronologically Nuix’s first foray into the symphonic genre and was initiated before the disease manifested to him, being then closed during the seasons he was at home while in treatment in the hospital. All of us who had the opportunity to attend its premiere on November 22, 1991, throughout the Contemporary Catalan Music Exhibition that year we remember this success of Nuix. “Lin” is a work for strings built in three sections (A – B – C(A’)) where starting from the mi4 note with a stubborn in semicorxeras of sixset, follows a development in the same line of the works previously commented, exploring very carefully the tymric of the string orchestra, despite making a rather moderate use of the divisi . It is remarkable the beauty of the central part in which with a writing close to the pointillism is played very skillfully with the harmonic color and the register, and also the frantic tutti that closes the composition.

On “Espirals” the instrumental work of the author’s greatest invoice is to say that it summarizes the constants of his instrumental work. The work was presented at the Palau de la Música Catalana on 20 January 1995 and according to Nuix, as the name of the piece suggests, the geometric-mathematical concept of spiral was from which the compositional idea was extracted. On the score we discover two sections. The first has a character of introduction where the materials and strategies that later in the second will appear with a greater elaboration and lead us towards a conclusion on the climax of the composition are presented. This two-part structuring makes us think about the possible influence of Lutoslawski, whom Nuix had the opportunity to meet personally. Nuix admired Lutoslawski’s music (especially his “Cello Concerto”, a work of which on more than one occasion he recognized would have been the work he would have wished to write himself), and it is well known that Lutoslawski had expressed himself in the sense that the ideal form was bipartisanship since he had observed that in most more significant works of Western music musical interest was concentrated in one of the movements , being the other more complementary than anything else.

The first “introductory” section is presented with simple structures on a pulse that walks without prey (black = 60). The strategy consists of conglomerates of notes from the note Mi greu of the double bass are deployed vertically in the form of emerging sonorities. It follows with certain atomizations of the sound material that recall again pointillist behaviors, in fp. The section culminates with a harmonious concentration of the material.

The second section opens vigorously with repeated quick notes reminding us of the beginning of Lutoslawski’s 3rd symphony. On a more vivid rhythm (q 120) appears a stubborn in semicorxeras based on groups of 8 notes that now ascending, now descend, dialogue and intert between (new reference to the way of treating the Lutoslawski rope). With these elements the work will take shape until it reaches a progressive climax that culminates again in the final tutti.

The interesting thing is that the whole second section, can be understood as a formal consequence of the elements presented in the first. Note that the second section is a formal crescendo in every way: sound accumulation (density) , exploration of the record, dynamics,… in short, it is a spiral that ends in a kind of relentless turbidity.

Consequently, we can schema the structure of the composition as follows:

1.- existence of a polar note (Mi)2.-
stubborn in the form of arborescent pedal (1st section)

3.- Rhythmic continuum in the form of a growing spiral.

Finally, this general review of Nuix’s work would not be fulfilled, without mentioning two facets that characterized it. On the one hand his side of performer, frequently performers of his own works (“L’Inizio” of 1986 for flute and magnetic tape, “Improvisation for tubes” of 1991 for six tubes of organ and magnetic tape) and also that of musician very interested and avested in electroacoustic music.

“L’Inizio” is most likely the most representative of the works of nuix’s first creative period (for this reason it is the one included in the CD attached to the magazine). It is a curious foray of Nuix in the music “program” made twinning the acoustic and electronic means. Based on the theory of the “Big Bang”, it describes the origin of the universe until the emergence of man, freely making free-mindedness to all intermediate evolution (creation of galaxies, planets, appearance of life, etc…). Nuix hitself told us that the durations of the different stages had not been strictly respected so as not to sacrifice musical interest. The tape part is a very fine work, since we are talking about exclusively analog media where they appear from properly electronic textures to recorded instrumental and vocal sounds. After an initial sound snap, a long introduction of the tape gives way to the entrance of the instrumental part that is articulated very freely with the use of resources characteristic of the contemporary writing of the flute: wind sounds, multiphonics, whistle-tons, etc… Throughout the work (with an estimated duration of about 17 minutes) accused symbolisms are discovered with certain programmatic facts. For example, the appearance of life is well meant by sounds of water on the tape and that of man by percuded sounds.

Nuix’s interest in the sound of organ tubes gave rise to “Improvisation for tubes”, a masterful integration of instrumental and electroacoustic action, exquisitely constructed from various materials that evolve from a more climatic and reflective introductory part to a climax to which an almost tribal stubbornness will lead us (by reference to collective rhythms , which will then be diluted in one of the most beautiful sound constructions of recent electroacoustic music.

I want to finish this modest approach to the personality and work of friend Jep Nuix with one last quote of his that refers to the indiscriminate use of music as an element of funds in public places, transport, restaurants, etc.. another aspect on which Nuix manifested himself on several occasions: “Because I love music I ask them for some Silence.”

And in this silence we will always have them ringing in our memory.


This article could not have seen the light without the data provided by different people, but especially without the collaboration of Isis Puig. His collaboration and help in the search for materials (the annex catalogue is entirely a compilation of Isis Puig) and his memories and experiences have been the essential counterpoint to the elaboration of this brief similarity of the work and personality of Jep Nuix.

To see the catalogue of works and more information about Jep:

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