Dave’s Discoveries: Week 5 – Zibuokle Martinaityté “Saudade” & “Blue”


This week I feature a really fresh new discovery for me, the Lithuanian composer Zibuokle Martinaityte. It is just a week or so ago that I first heard her music. I’d like to explain the context for how I discovered her.

The American composer Steve Reich has been an important influence on my music. I always look out for new pieces by him.

I found a concert online that featured one of his latest works, ‘Music for Ensemble and Orchestra’, and intended just to watch the Reich piece. By a happy accident I started playing the video a few minutes before Reich’s piece. I was fascinated by what I heard.

It sounded to me like a very original combination of two of my favourite modern classical composers, Gyorgy Ligeti and John Adams. So I paused the video, found the start of the piece and saw it was ‘Saudade’ by Ziboukle Martinaityte. I sat back and listened to it, finding myself quickly drawn in by the unfolding, unusual orchestral textures. It is what I’d describe as ‘almost tonal’ modern classical music, as it wanders from bubbling, minimalistic tonal textures to big climaxes with Ligeti-like dissonant clusters. The music is not conventional in any sense, it is driven by texture rather than melody. If you are not familiar with this kind of music, it may seem strange at first, but give it time and you may find it very exciting by the end. The music moves from the slow textures to fast, rhythmic music that reminds me a bit of John Adams’ Shaker Loops.

As the piece ended I immediately wanted to find out more about her music, so, instead of continuing to watch the Reich piece, I went to her website http://zibuokle.com/ to listen to more of her music and, more importantly, find out why I’d not heard of her before. It turns out she is building quite a reputation in the contemporary classical scene in the USA, where she now lives, so perhaps it’s only a matter of time before she is better known worldwide.

Watch Saudade by clicking here

If you keep watching after this you’ll see the new Reich piece. It is a typical example of his more recent music, almost like a homage to his past glories, but not saying anything particularly new. I’m glad I tuned in though, as, without doing so, I wouldn’t have discovered the very talented Ziboukle Martinaityte, who most definitely is saying something new!

p.s. Another piece I’ve recently enjoyed hearing is the haunting and eerie ‘Blue’, which you can hear on her Soundcloud page.