This video goes into a bit of detail about both the title and the piece itself:
As in all my BABEL pieces, the title spells out the word "Babel" in five different scripts. In this case, the B (well, technically BA) is Ancient Mayan, the A is Futhark, the B is Morse code, the E is Korean and the L is Greek. The f(f(1)) part of the title means this piece is the first in my f(f(x)) series as well. In this case, that means there are several melodies that contain themselves fractally, and the individual movements are themselves separate pieces inside the larger piece. Really, watch that video, it makes more sense there I think. Oh, and I should note that there's a companion piece to this one—also featured on BABEL fragments—called SHESHACH(maya).
OK, I swear this is the last time I'll refer to the video, but I tried to give a good overview there:
Briefly, this is a five-movement piece for different combinations of coloratura soprano, cello and pre-recorded electronics. It was written specifically as a duet for me and the incredible Kamala Sankaram (who is featured in the recording of this piece on my album BABEL fragments).
The first movement is for cello with electronic accompaniment. The melody throughout this movement is specially composed so that it contains itself. If you play it along with itself at double the speed, they line up with each other. Same thing at half speed, quadruple speed, quarter speed, etc. This movement can be performed separately as a simple PortRait piece.
The second movement is a duet for soprano and cello, and, much like the larger piece it's a part of, it's a BABEL piece. The piece is essentially in five parts, written using different musical languages. One of the pieces is spread throughout the movement, and is another example of an f(f(x)) melody as discussed in the first movement. There's also a bit written using Japanese Shakuhachi notation, a bit using Gregorian chant neumatic notation and a bit use Ancient Greek notation (which includes some microtonal stuff). This is the first half of the brokenAphorism piece embedded inside the larger structure.
The third movement is another PortRait piece, this time for soprano and electronics. The morse code you can hear throughout most of the electronic part is the first-ever telegraph transmission, and it translates to "What God Hath Wrought." That phrase is sung over and over again in the movement, but it is translated into dozens of different languages.
The fourth movement is the second half of the brokenAphorism piece, and is mostly a jumbled-up version of the second movement. It is again just for soprano/cello duet.
The fifth and final movement is two PortRait pieces in one. It's for soprano, cello and electronics and it mashes up lots of music from the preceding movements. My favorite part comes when the vocal parts and cello parts gradually split into more and more copies, creating a total babble of melodies and musical ideas. The opposite process happens in the companion piece mentioned above, SHESHACH(maya).
This piece had an unusually long gestation period. The cello/electronics piece and the two duets came rather quickly, but the third and fifth movements were extremely difficult for some reason. They lay on the back burner for quite awhile until I finally had to pull them together for the recording of BABEL fragments. In fact, when Kamala was in the studio, all I had written were her parts, and I still had to create most of the electronics in the following year before mixing.