‘Opaal’ means ‘Opal’ in Dutch. Like the title suggests, this piece was inspired by that beautiful multi colored mineral. It is fascinating to realize that such shining depht and refraction of light is the result of a structure that is made up of some of the very most basic elements like silicium and water. Elements, though, that are very different, almost opposed in nature.
Similarly, the materials used for the piece ‘Opaal’ are of a very basic but very different sonic nature, like birdsong (mostly blackbird and robin) and several types of noisy crackling sounds. Through complex filtering and amalgamation of the two types of material, new sound structures were formed that are very dynamic, colorful and resonant in nature. These were then moulded into mutli-layered sonic gestures.
Opaal’ consists of three parts, each of which refers to a different aspect of the mineral opal and it’s inspiration. The first part is subtitled ‘SiO2-nH2O’ (the chemical description of the mineral opal). This part focusses on the physical aspect. Silicium is washed by rain, materials mix into a muddy substance that flows down into the cracks between ancient rocks, then gradually hardens into a gem.
The second part is titled ‘Nyoi-hoju’ (Japanese for ‘wish granting jewel’). It is about the meaning and symbolism that has come to be associated with the mineral opal. Some traditions speak of opal as a gem that brings one good luck, while other stories hold that it causes misfortune. On another level, people argue wether opal deserves the classification of a 'true gem' since it looks like a gem, but doesn’t quite have te typical solid characteristics of a gem. ‘Nyoi-hoju’ can be regarded an abstact poem on these inconsistencies.
The third and final part is called ‘Saurangi’ (a term from India that indicates something like ‘having hundreds of colors’). This part is simply about color, refraction and dynamism. The piece thus finishes with an interplay of many different colors and resonances.
‘Opaal’ was completed in 2005 in the composer's studio. The piece was commissioned by NFPK+, The Netherlands.