instrumentation: six performers and a conductor

year: 2019

program notes

This is a hybrid work that uses improvisation and notation in tandem. It allows performers to supply their own materials within a controlled overall structure. Dynamics and rhythms are specified throughout the piece. All instrumental parts are notated on a three-line staff to indicate contour but avoid any associations with specific pitches. The exact pitch-content is always left-up to the performers. ‘Scribbles’ are not meant to be followed for their contours, but rather as a depiction of an outburst of energy. In other words, the performer must imagine drawing these scribbles and the kind of energy release this represents and mimic this energy release in their playing. The score also indicates when certain instruments must play chords, and when these chords should be filtered, or thinned-out gradually. For example, when playing a chord one a piano, one can remove all fingers at once and silence the chord, or one finger at a time – or filtering.

The score employs the same notation that is frequently used for flute tone quality to indicate the level of clarity (or opacity) of the music. For example, a passage showing an empty circle indicates very pale and ‘inconcrete’ sounds, whereas a filled-in circle indicates the opposite. I make use of half-filled circles and arrows to indicate middle-stages of clarity and transitions. I also frequently use full sentences to describe the kinds of sounds a performer should be supplying. It is obviously very difficult, if not impossible, to read such sentences and play in real time, which brings me to a very important point: this music is not meant to be sight-read. Although the music is mostly improvised, this is not a free improvisation. Musicians are expected to not only spend time with their own parts in order to decipher the sentences I sometimes write in advance, but also to read the full-score and know what to expect from other musicians in advance in order to make informed and thought-out decisions when it is time to play.

This version of the piece was developed for Amalgama, an ensemble consisting of Pierrot plus percussion instruments (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion). Contact me for a different version of the score.


download the score