Suya Dalmak by Charlotte Bray for cello and tape.

Commissioned by Isang Enders and created with the support of a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship.

First performed on 5 April 2014 at the Festival 3B in Wuppertal, Germany by Isang Enders.

Programme Notes

Suya Dalmak is the result of a commission from cellist Isang Enders, forming part of a collection of works he is commissioning for cello and electronics, each piece based on one of the ancient Korean elements. I chose Water.

I asked people to talk to me about the sea, to tell me about their first experience or memories surrounding it - when was it, where, what did it feel like or sound like to be immersed or submerged in the water, what did the experience mean to them? I was given accounts of exquisite stories, invited to glimpse into people’s inner most worlds and intimate memories, something which was far more stimulating and beautiful than I could have imagined. These ‘voices’ formed the starting point for Suya Dalmak.

The title is Turkish: dalmak meaning to dive, plunge into, to become abstracted, lost in thought, to enter (a place) suddenly; Suya Dalmak literally meaning to dive into water. The first voice that I recorded was of a Turkish friend, a film maker, who told me a powerful account about how her relationship with the sea has changed because she can no longer dive into it, since being caught in a bomb explosion which burned her body and ruptured her ears. Her story became a driving force behind the piece at this early stage; it became about immersion in water, the state and the process.

Collecting accounts from 21 people in 14 different languages over 6 months, the piece began building and taking shape, led by the universality of our basic human emotions sparked by seeing or remembering the sea, be it joy, sorrow, hope, fear, struggle, relief, surprise, courage or gratitude. A sense of journey was usually present and the personalities of the interviewees gradually became part of the piece, their personal experiences of the sound, the smell or the feeling of the sea.

Considering different states and actions: above and under water, submersion and emersion, led me to the structure of the piece and the musical material: in each state or action what would the music sound like? At the opening the surface movement of the water can be felt in the live and pre-recorded cello parts, gentle and tranquil. Suddenly being submersed, the central section is underwater, reflected in the playful pizzicato cello — a secret underworld where everything is different and sounds are warped. A more gradual emersion leads to the final section, above water again, this time heard from a more distant place. The cello is reflective, echoes bouncing between live and pre-recorded parts on the tape.

- Charlotte Bray

Performance Notes

  • Use a wooden mute for the passage from bar 49.
  • Bowings and fingerings are a suggestion only.
  • A pair of earphones or headphones is required for performance. The audio ‘tape’ is available digitally from Birdsong Music Publishing ( It consists of a click track on the left channel and the audio on the right.

Duration: 10 minutes