music composer, also for film and theater

添水 – sōzu

When I sent my sister Eloysa Zelada the first sketches of what was going to be a 8-minute long solo piano piece she would play at her graduation recital, the first thing she told me was that it reminded her of the bamboo fountains one could find in Japanese gardens.

In Santiago de Chile, where we grew up, there is a Japanese garden at the Metropolitan Park. We used to go there often as kids with our parents. She especially loved walking over the stones that crossed the pond that was in the middle of the garden. On one edge of the pond there was one of these fountains.

They are quite special. When they are empty they stand straight so that the bamboo stick gets filled with water. When it becomes heavy enough it falls down, emptying itself in the pond. Once empty, it goes back to its original position, making a loud plop sound. The name of such a fountain in Japanese is sōzu, which is written using the kanji 添 (accompany, imitate) and 水 (water).

Musically, the piece is my way of reconciling with a more diatonic harmonic language, as well as with the use of repetitive rhythmic and melodic structures. There is change on a very subtle level, but at the same time the piece is quite unpredictable, from how it begines you would never know how it ends.

The piece was performed by my sister at the Stiefel Hall, Mannes School of Music, New York City, on February 26, 2020. The recording is from this performance.

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