Colorless green ideas sleep furiously
I wrote GREEN for the ASKO chamber choir with large ensemble, in the context of the project
I banned the color green. The work was designed to be the final piece of the project, that was performed during the International Guitar Festival Zwolle in 2008.
I got the inspiration for this composition from the description of some visual art works that I received in November 2007. One of these works was an installation with five televisions that were positioned towards the floor, so anyone watching the installation would only see some flickering of the pictures shown on each TV. Initially that image gave me a feeling of difficult, if not meaningless, communication. I saw a kind of morse code going from one TV to the other, dot dot dash, dash dash dot etc.
That morse code became one of the central ideas of the composition. You immedeately see/hear it right at the start in the string and wind instruments, and later also in the choir.
Another central theme for the composition is the idea of meaninglessness. That theme also came from the above-mentioned art work with the televisions. I wanted to make a work in with a musical story could be told, containing all the emotions inherent in a language. But without the words that are necessarily sung/spoken by the choir as they also would add a meaning, duplicating the story. Music can generate enough meaning in itself, tell its own story. Maybe that is a different story for every listener, which makes it all the more exciting. I just wanted to tell that story.
Writing for choir without using text is a challenge. Therefore I searched for text without meaning, and in the end I found the following sentence:
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.. This sentence was composed by Noam Chomsky, who created it in an attempt to prove that it was possible to create a text without meaning that still was grammatically correct.
The only text in this 15 minute composition is just this single sentence, with all sorts of variations and word orders.