Reflection on "La mano izquierda es la que escribe las mentiras chiquitas"

by Brandon Quarles

When Luis Fernando and I began to work on La mano izquierda es la que escribe las mentiras chiquitas, we were strangers. We came to the project vulnerable like children. And in many ways, this vulnerability and freedom is the soul of the piece. In our initial discussions for the piece, Luis Fernando told me about his interest in flaw. He had been writing and drawing with his left hand, even though he is right-handed, in an effort to tap into an almost primal and deeply-rooted creativity; a creativity that is not overly fixated on perfection or precision. He asked if there was a way to translate this "left-handedness" to the saxophone. I suggested experimenting with the ever malleable and mysterious technique of voicing, the movements made in the oral cavity that affect pitch and timbre. Many saxophonists practice voicing to isolate different partials in the harmonic series, but what we found is the space in between the partials. At extremely soft dynamics and with extreme changes to the voicing, it is possible to hold one pitch steady while producing an overtone that is moveable. This sound is somewhat similar to "overtone singing." Once we found this space, this flaw in the system, the piece came together very quickly. Using recordings of my playing soprano, alto, and baritone saxophones, Luis Fernando conjured up a beautiful and fragile world. He then composed a beautiful, hand drawn (with the left hand) score for me to communicate with the pre-recorded sounds. These sounds live on the thresholds, these planes where flaw is always a possibility. We often live on these thresholds ourselves. It is often impossible to tell where the sounds are coming from and from which saxophone. In performance I even lose myself in this threshold world. But isn't that what makes it beautiful? In these "flaws" lie enormous beauty.