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2(I=picc,II=afl).2.2.2- tree/SD/cowbell/tgl/cyms/finger cyms/maracas/tamb/cast/glsp/crot/wdbls/bongos/whip/tam-t/BD-harp-solo pft-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes (Hendon Music)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Couvent des Jacobins, Rennes
Simon Ghraichy, piano / Orchestre National de Bretagne / Simone Menezes
Composer's Notes

"Don't try to understand Mexico with reason; you'll have more luck looking to the absurd—Mexico is the most surrealist country in the world."
André Breton

Fractalis emerged as a form of personal resistance, amid my admiration for nature and the evident climate change we have all begun to experience. I took it upon myself to create a musical work stemming from novel ways to imaginatively reinvent certain aspects of nature that have been altered or affected. These reinventions would be based on the exploration of an inexistent, surreal subconscious in order to deliberately underscore the absurdity of what is taking place through fantastical natural realities. How would space look if we were able to observe it as a series of flowing streams of cosmic water? How would running water sound in these myriad rivers? How might we imagine the music of hundreds of cacti, swaying almost choreographically in a desert in motion? How would the gears sound in a machinery comprised of salt crystals? If various of these machines ran simultaneously, but at different velocities, how would that rhythmic kaleidoscope sound?

As I was starting to conceptualize and outline these ideas through music, the pandemic struck, and the world suddenly ground to a halt. Inner and physical space became fundamental to our subsistence in this strange and forced “abnormality” that all too soon, has become the “new normal” in our lives. Within this unprecedented and atypical circumstance, I had no choice but to come to terms with the fact that silence would make its presence known for a time, whereas the awareness of sound and its strength would take on new meaning.

In my initial draft, the architecture of Fractalis was based on three well-defined sections: Celestial Rivers, Salt Crystals, and Cactus Delirium. In each section, the idea was to sonically evoke fractal geometries of an imaginary nature in disruption. The central foundation was based on the possibility of creating musical concepts that are self-similar (repeated but varied) developed on different scales or levels and within different contexts, rather like what happens with hypnotic fractal structures in nature.

However, this process was fractured as soon as the compulsory “new normal” began. Only then did I become aware of the inevitable necessity of musically creating an inner space of reflection that would mirror what all of us were experiencing. In Hinduism and Buddhism, the constant repetition of sounds through a Mantra is a means of healing and attaining spiritual development (on a sonorous plane). Likewise, a Mandala is composed of a structure of designs that represent fractal or repetitive composition of the universe and nature (on a graphic or visual plane). Parting from these two premises, I believed that it would work if I were not only to write and alternate my three previous sections with a Mantra and a Mandala, but that moreover, the elements of repetition and fragmentation inherent to their structures could form a common thread of musical syntax in this work.

Hence, Fractalis contains two main movements subdivided in the following manner: first, Celestial Rivers-Mantra-Salt Crystals; and second, Mandala-Cactus Delirium. It is important to note that the piano score is highly virtuoso and plays a role of concertation, whereas the orchestra reinforces and complements the piano through elements of color, texture, and harmony. Another common thread in this work is the tireless repetition of the note sol that not only unifies the different sections, but also intensifies the idea of instilling a kind of spiritual and hypnotic power in the listener. The work was commissioned by the Symphonic Orchestra of Britain and is dedicated to the pianist Simon Grhaichy.

— Gabriela Ortiz


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