Figure and ground

Maria Alejandra Velásquez-Sossa – soprano
David Sossa Fernández – guitar

Notes: The concept of figure and ground is basic to perception. Sound and silence obviously fits the concept in music generally, as does melody and harmony. In this particular piece, there are structural references to Rorschach tests, colour field paintings, etc., while the text expresses a curiosity for what might exist outside of the figure and ground.

Stare at the tree ’til it changes colour,
What’s in, what’s out?
Rippling gold against backlit sky blue.
What’s in, what’s out?
Fingertips tingle to bated breathing.
What’s in, what’s out?
Out in the stillness the leaf tips tremble.
What’s in, what’s out?

How can one describe this scene,
Ordinary yet singular?
These poor dictionary words:
Sullied by their standard meanings.

What about the ordering?
Shuffle words, reveal uniqueness
Hidden within the mundane:
What remain are awkward phrases.

Hark the chinks in gaps between
The words. The successive pauses
Layer echoes, shimmering
In the void between the spaces.

Murmured hints of memories
Ravel from forgotten places:
Archetypal image spreads
From trunk to branch, from twig to leaf.

Reaching up, stretching, absorbing sunlight,
What’s in, what’s out?
Thrusting down, penetrate moist dark humus,
What’s in, what’s out?
Poised between pull of the air and compost:
What’s in, what’s out?
Tree has a fire within its heartwood.
What’s in, what’s out?