Originally composed for tenor sax November 1999 for Arno Bornkamp with financial suport from the FPK. After a performance by Arno at the World Sax Congress in Montreal, July 2000, Grab it! became popular and is now a repertoire piece for the tenor sax.
Growing up in the sixties with blues, jazz and rock, American music had a strong impact on my work. I believe that language is one of the origins of music, which is obvious in Afro-American music. In GRAB IT! I tried to explore the ‘no-man’s-land’ between language and music.
When people get emotional, the musical quality of their speech is often increasing. So I prefer to use sound bytes from people in extremely emotional situations. Crying is almost a kind of singing, for instance.
Grab It! is based on voice samples from life-sentenced prisoners. The rough vitality of their verbal abuse matches the harsh sound of the tenor sax. GRAB IT! is a kind of duet, a 'dual’ if you like, for tenor sax and speech grooves. The horn competes in unison with a perpetual range of syllables, words and sentences, which demands intense endurance from the performer. The meaning of the lyrics becomes gradually clear during the piece, as well as the hopeless situation for the prisoners. In jail suicide is not uncommon: 'He tied one end around the pipe, and he hung himself. So he went out the back door rapped up in a green sheet with a tag on his toe....You lose everything!' But in a way, death row is also a metaphor for life: The piece is not just sad, but can also be understood as a ‘memento vivere’. Life is worth living: Grab it!’