Frank Nuyts was born in Ostend (Belgium) in 1957. He studied percussion, chamber music and piano in the Royal Conservatory of Music in Ghent as well as composition with Lucien Goethals and Karel Goeyvaerts at IPEM (Institute of Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music).
His first compositions are written in post-serial style. He wins the first prize in the national competition “Tenuto” of the Belgian Radio and Television (now VRT) with the orchestral piece “As if the hand never leaves” from 1979. “Sonivers II: Inmediaciones de la noche”, a cantata for soprano, reciter, flute, chamber orchestra and tape was selected by the Belgian Radio and Television for the Italia Prize in 1982.
Around 1985 he is stilistically veering to post-modernism: elements of the so-called “commercial music” are from then on imbedded in compositions which remain multi-layered although rhythmically less complex. “Rastapasta” (1986) for flute and solo strings and “Woodnotes” (1987) for marimba and orchestra for the American virtuouso Robert Van Sice.
In 1989 he founds with Iris De Blaere Hardscore, a group seeking
to establish the right instrumental sound for the new style. The group consists of electronic keyboards, amplified marimba, saxes, voice, electronic bass and drums. Six Books are currently composed for and recorded with this ensemble. Several times, Hardscore is linked to other ensembles, as for instance in 1991 with “When the tombs of brass are spent..." for large brass ensemble, conducted by Dirk Brossé.
In 1990 he wins “Le prix de la musique contemporaine de Québec” for his chamber music output and the Belgian “Muizelhuis composition prize”. In the nineties he writes a Second and Third symphony, a chamber opera (“Ga.n”, scored for an all electronic orchestra), and many pieces for chamber ensembles. The Australian vocal ensemble “The Songcompany” commissions a work for six solo voices “Airs à gogo” which is premiered during the Brisbane Music Festival in 1994. In 1995 he receives the 5-yearly Prize for Music of his hometown Ghent.
In the same year he writes “Hard Scores for orchestra” for marimba, vibraphone, piano and large orchestra, premiered and recorded in the Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts. In 1997, 1998 and 2000 he releases 3 CD's with Hardscore In 1998 he is composer in residence of I Fiamminghi (Belgium) . He composes Hard Scores Book 5 “Surf, wind and desire” for De Werf in Bruges (1999) and Book 6 “Monkey trial” in (2000) for the Festival of Flanders. Writes in 2002 three large sonatas for piano, which are premiered by three fabulous young pianists choreographed by Eddy Becquart in an ancient mining site in Houthalen (Belgium).
From 2002 on he composes almost exclusively for the Brussels theater company "Ensemble Leporello” ( ao. a musictheatre Bekket) (2003).
Composes in 2004 "Different from habit", commissioned by Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen while still continuing to teach composition at the Royal Music Conservatory of Ghent.
The trances (2006)
Twofold was my inspiration for this piece.
If one mentions "percussion", people tend to dream up ethnic groups jamming in far-away regions, where the sun almost always shines. If one mentions the word "trance" even more so.
But percussion doesn't limit itself to the exotic. Percussion forms part of every corner in the word. It might be the primordial musical sound.
Still, percussion has a kind of ancient ring. The relentless beat of the late 20th century techno and house, concocted in highly contemporary high- performance computers, appeal mainly to the more or less hidden urges of all the people living in the very "now".
A composer who's specifically asked to compose a percussion piece for a line-up without keykoards, faces a serious problem. If he isn't interested in bland cross-over, or in western complexities, or in the solutions presented by the early Cage, this leaves him in a situation where the margin to operate is rather slim.
Luckily for me two extra musical encounters guided me to a possible path to follow.
I've been recently in Australia and got there bombarded with all the australiana invented since the dawn of time. But a friend showed a poem by Les Murray called "The trances", which discribes in contemporary terms the link between the current inhabitants from the world and the very first tribes who defied the Ice ages. This gave me a beautiful title and a program.
I would confront several kind of trances: the trance felt by the drumplayer in the windband from around the counter, the trance felt by geting into a groove, the trance suggested by the use of African instruments, relying on the ubiquitous Gangokui rhythms of West Ghana and so on. Not copying or imitating these kinds of music, but trying to induce similar feelings by using the barest of rhytmical material. Basically everything here goes back to the use of the numbers one, two and three. A model of composition I got from Mozart who in the fourth movement of his KV 464 limits the material to a few motives which engender everything needed to develope his finale.
But when I returned to Belgium, Salman Rushdie just published his magnificent novel "Shalimar the clown". And not far in the novel he discribes a totally different kind of trance. He states that trance gives the "trancee" the power to slow down time.
This became for me the final piece in the jigsaw construction of my score: everything would revolve around this moment of total stillness, this perfect stasis and suspension of time. A kind of symmetry presented then itself, which allowed me to start and end the piece in a similar way, although acoustically highly diversified.
"The trances" is dedicated to Mark Delaere, director of the Transit festival, who offered me the opportunity to write this piece for the highly acclaimed Schlagzeugquartett Köln. May the beat be with them!
3 V '06
Uraufführung am 28.Oktober 2006 in Leuven, Schlagquartett Köln