Although calving is a natural process in the life of an iceberg, the acceleration of their melting and breaking brings an alarming new reality of climate change to the foreground, driven by humans’ excessive need for natural resources and the activities we do that destroy the environment.
Icy Disintegration was written in 2009, a few years after the breakage of iceberg B15-A – once the world's largest free-floating object. This work is conceived as a ‘musical reporting’ which details the process that led to the berg’s sudden split in 2005. Written as one through-composed work, the strong conceptual plan gravitates the structure into different stages of the destructive event, from existing as a pristine object floating in the sea, to the gradual appearances of fissures, cracks, and the pressurised compression that eventually breaks the iceberg in half.
Nothing escaped; the reality was final. Its scream pierced deep through the ocean floor.
The principal ideas presented in the work are sourced from various audio recordings from YouTube videos and relevant scientific research centres around the world. These samples were analysed for translation into pitch materials, then orchestrated for various instrumental timbres to form the building blocks for the work.
The serenity of icebergs has long been the staple image of the great white continent that regulates the temperature of our planet – one now often accompanied by images of polar bears stranded on small pieces of disappearing ice sheets with nowhere else to go and no food to feed on. As I revise this program note in the year 2023, it is sad to realize that 14 years on we continue steadily heading toward drastic environmental decline.
A piece of music will not stop the Earth’s temperature rising nor more icebergs melting, but might at least help refocus us on what desperately needs our full attention right now: our own future.
© Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh, 2023