on my mind

Every so often some of the music I make seems to consolidate around a particular approach and that has now been happening for a couple of years, beginning with Unlocking the grid for solo woodwind instrument with playback. So perhaps this tendency – let’s call it ‘The New Naked’ – needs a manifesto:

#1 Silence is almost never absolute
#2 Space is sound is time is space
#3 Things are what they are, whatever that may be
#4 Tones from musical instruments are usually enough

Certainly Flauto inverso, written last year, seems to be part of this. The music grew out of Karin de Fleyt’s wish to ‘re-imagine the flute’ and uses the flute that Boehm so skilfully homogenised in the 19th century, but gradually takes it back in time and then perhaps even out of time. Something similar has happened in two other recent pieces: untouch-touch gives a percussionist a series of gestures to make, the first time to trigger sine-tones, the second time to strike six gongs; senza misura is a piano work in which the time is taken by groups of notes gradually sounded all over the keyboard – the music sounds both completely consistent and yet never the same.

But I am doing other things too. Sometimes I’m working on fantasma, the first part of a triptych of vocal consort music for EXAUDI called Canti del carcere, setting Gramsci and Dante, for which I already have the latter two parts.  Sometimes I am writing music for violin, cello and piano for the Fidelio Trio: five movements with the overall title This is the wind of which the third movement, ‘Mouth’, is now complete. But mostly I am writing a lament, Caoineadh, for alto flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello – it seems that the Pierrot quintet still has things to offer.

I am also adding more O Antiphons to the series I began in 2004 with ‘Open the Gate’ and picked up again last year with ‘Our Grace’; just finished is ‘In a flame of fire’, a setting of ‘O Adonai’. Then I will make a work which assembles field recordings in the way that the makers of Stonehenge assembled stones and adds live musicians too. Like Topophony it will also involve improvising, and Open Space in Snape Maltings will host some days of preparatory work on the piece in May 2018. Maybe also a piece for the same instrumentalists as L’Histoire du Soldat, and more music for electric guitar quartet. Lots to do…


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