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Muziek voor miljarden

Music for the Billions (1998, revision 2002/ 2004)

When I had graduated from the Conservatory in Utrecht long ago I was commissioned to write a composition for two pianos, eight hands. I felt a great need for self-renewal. On the one hand I wanted to rid myself of the remnants of other people’s influences; on the other hand, as far as I was concerned, the big fat bone of dissonance tossed to us at the beginning of the twentieth century had in my view been picked clean. This urge for renovation led me towards tonality as an idiom for sound. I didn’t want a regression back to old ideas but a progression past the accomplishments of the twentieth century.

A lot can be said about what happened since then, positive or negative. Musical thematic layers, often blending into each other, became one of the characteristics of ‘my’ tonal style. Instruments often play the same music but differ in meters. Pulsation is often hidden.

Since 1997 I grew increasingly interested in more transparency with clear pulsation. Once in my life I wanted to write pulsating bass lines, a beat. I did that in 1998 in Music for the Billions in the first and last part. In the second movement you still can hear musical layers, blending into each other. Characteristics of this work are spontaneity and an angular style of composition.

While improvising I found myself playing an unbelievably silly tune in which sixth chords flew about my ears. The resulting melody haunted me, especially when at bed-time. In the third movement I tried to deal with this melody, once and for all.

The title Music for the Billions is obviously a wink at the present era of Music for the Millions. The audience, open for tonal contemporary music with a certain level of complexity, will always be limited.

Music for Billions was commissioned by the Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst.

      1. Als een Inleiding (Like an Introduction), 2'41
      2. Als een Eerste Deel (Like a First Movement), 7'54
      3. Als een Tweede Deel (Like a Second Movement), 8'41
      4. Als een Derde Deel (Like a Third Movement), 7'21

New York Times:
Robert Nasveld’s “Music for the Billions” is largely tonal, but not simplistically so, and its juxtapositions of syncopated rhythms, its wide-ranging percussion and its passing allusions to everything from Rachmaninoff to Elmer Bernstein’s “Magnificent Seven” film score give the piece a subtle but enlivening sense of humor.