The View From Above
Spectralist-inspired work for Pierrot ensemble.
✦ Winner of the 2022 Lilburn Trust composition prize ✦
The View From Above is a Spectralist-inspired work based on a set of timbre-chords and composed for a variation of Pierrot ensemble: flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano. The work imagines clouds of sound that gradually descend from the sky towards the ground. In effect we hear timbral and melodic fragments of the harmonic series in reverse, beginning with the diffuse higher partials and which, through a sometimes turbulent process, ultimately come to rest around the fundamental frequencies that were the basis for the spectra investigated here.
Suite for piano and marimba
Tone clock-inspired four movement suite for piano and marimba.
In Suite for piano and marimba the marimba draws the piano to the percussive side of its nature while, at times, the piano tempts the marimba to the more melodic and harmonic. Tone Clock theory has been used to generate the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic material: Prelude and Barcarolle (IIm8 and inversions); Lento (IIIm); Toccata (IXm4 steered by VIIIM4 and inversions). Although the individual movements thus have their own internal structures and character, they have also been allowed to influence each other (e.g. the recurrent repeated note motif) such that there is an organic unity to the whole. This work is in discourse with a sound world that includes the keyboard and/or percussion works of François Couperin, Domenico Scarlatti, Béla Bartók, John Cage, Elliott Carter, György Ligeti, Steve Reich, James Tenney, Jenny McLeod and Michael Gordon.
Kōrero ki te Ngāhere
Nature-inspired semi-aleatoric work for 21 piece string orchestra.
Kōrero ki te ngāhere here means “discourse with nature.” The work is inspired by the joy of being alone in the natural environment – waldeinsamkeit in German, or what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku (forest-bathing). It explores the aleatoric characteristics of that environment with a number of elements, to a greater or lesser degree, left to the individual performers discretion and musical instincts. Though iterations may be similar, they will never be identical. All 21 instruments are treated as separate voices that emerge independently, sometimes cohere, sometimes fracture or may seem to be in dialogue with other disparate voices across the orchestra. A range of sound production is explored, from more standard melodic fragments through to the sound of the breath, liminality – and silence. The work is built on arbitrarily chosen structures (based on a randomised procedure and the outline of Kapiti Island), intending to represent the fact that the start is not the beginning, nor the finish the end; this particular musical moment that we experience is merely a sliver of time in an ongoing soundworld.
Caprice I & II
Short solo works for cello & half-clarinet inspired by Sciarrino and Saariaho.
These Caprices are structured around the theatrical interplay between, and micro-variation of, two contrasted timbral/gestural identities, which are themselves the result of a limited set of extended techniques.
Sometimes these two are combined and both are characterised by the exploration of the transition between a full, standardly produced, pitched tone and complex higher harmonics approaching pure noise, such as can be found (in the case of the cello) in the Sept Papillons of Kaija Saariaho.
This compositional process was influenced not only by specific instrumental techniques used by Salvatore Sciarrino, but also by his distillation of materials and approach to structure, e.g. in the Sei Caprici and L’opera per flauto.
Example from The View From Above
Example from Suite for piano & marimba
A few example compositions of different flavours which aim to create distinct musical environments that allow for great collective improvisation to flourish.
Star of Isis
On Penpont Cairn