The title Novas came to me after some investigation into the etymology of the word “novel.” My original concept for this work had me writing a series of dances, attacca, based on characters from various novels by Salman Rushdie and Gabriel García Márquez, and specific situations in which those characters found themselves. I found that the root of the words “nova” and “novel” were both the Latin “novus,” meaning “new.” As my work progressed, the novel connection disintegrated, and the form of the work emerged as a series of abstract musical objects that were largely, on the surface, unrelated. The juxtapositions of these objects, taken as a whole, resembled random bursts of energy that were extinguished almost as soon as they began, and which occasionally even overlapped—another beginning before the former had ended. This, in turn, called to mind a kind of stellar display—a meteor shower or the nearly concurrent deaths of multiple stars. Thus, the plural: “novas.”
That the roots of the intended and final inspirations are one in “novus” bears a further note. Most of the works I had written prior to Novas had quite explicitly acknowledged earlier forms, but Novas departs from this. It was a new thing for me to create forms that were indigenous to the materials contained within those forms, that is, to let the material dictate what form it will take, and what it will lead to or follow. I tried, in this work, to obey only the whims of the material used therein, rather than force that material into a previously established mold. One often hears novelists talk of letting the characters tell them (the novelists) what they (the characters) will say, what they will do, etc. In this way, perhaps my original conception of the work—as inspired by the novel—has obtained nonetheless.