Michel van der Aa / Works / 


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Attach is a high-density piece. The central theme is the relationship between the musicians and the soundtrack: the soundtrack precedes the musicians and challenges the players to react. It then elaborates on the existing material, adding new overtones to chords and sequences and transforming the tone color of the instruments.
In Attach the sounds of the ensemble and soundtrack are glued together: they appear to run parallel to one another, even when they contrast. The most prominent ingredient from the outset is a regular, mechanical pulse occurring in several tempi simultaneously. In the exposition this pulse alternates with rapid unison passages and sustained chords that are strangely discoloured by the electronic sounds ‘attached’ to them.

Then follows a much more tranquil passage, in which the astute listener may recognise the opening section of Attach, now reduced to a skeleton of unraveled chords. This quiet, reflective texture is gradually invaded by pulsing beats and faster notes until the music explodes into a headlong rush of fleeting phrases, hammered chords and dramatic pauses, that gradually intertwine and culminate in a feverish tutti in which the unison has given way to a rapid succession of chords (the same ten chords, in fact, that form the fundament of the entire “Preposition trilogy”). Finally the music screeches to a halt in a furious attachment, after which the calm counter-theme takes over the discourse. Dry pulses soon disrupt this passage, going on to end the piece on their own.

Attach is part of the “Preposition” trilogy – Above, Between, Attach, each part focusing on a specific positioning of the musical material.

In 2000 Amsterdam Art Foundation awarded Van der Aa the Matthijs Vermeulen Incentive prize the for Attach.


Special in terms of sound color and interaction

“Attach is a brand-new work by composer Michel van der Aa. In this piece the ensemble confronts a soundtrack, on which one hears, among other things, frantic pulses. Man against machine. The work demanded the utmost concentration from the Schoenberg ensemble. The idea isn’t new, but Van der Aa certainly does something special with it. Special in terms of sound color and interaction. A composer with fantasy and sense of timing.”
— Aad van der Ven, Haagse krant, Feb 2000

Clear line of reasoning

“Attach, premiered Saturday by the Schoenberg Ensemble, is a high-density work. These events, however, are subjected to a precise musical syntax with clearly delineated phrases and modules. That leads to a clear line of reasoning, in which chords are surrounded by a nimbus of overtones and in which the pulse is threatened with being pulverized, but eventually regains the upper hand.”
— Frits van der Waa, Volkskrant, 24 February 2000


for ensemble and soundtrack

1 oboe
1 clarinet in B flat
1 bass clarinet
1 bassoon
1 trumpet in C
1 percussion (Vib, 5 Chin tom-toms, Banko, metals, log drums, woodbl, cabassa)
Strings (2,2,2,2,1)
Soundtrack (from CD or laptop)

NOTE: The piece may also be peformed with: 1 vlnI, 1 vlnII, 1 vla, 1 vlc, 1 db but double strings are preferred




First performance

19 February 2000
Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Commissioned by

Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst




Last performance

18 June 2017

Attach (Israel premiere)

Israel contemporary players
Ed Spanjaard, conductor

9pm, Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel

All performances of Attach


Schoenberg Ensemble, cond. Micha Hamel