beyond this [all had been chaos] 2014
instrumentation – viola and percussion. Percussion: Crotales [upper octave] | Deep, resonant bass drum large, | deep Tam-tam | 2 Congas low/high | 2 Bongos low/high | 5 differently pitched Temple Blocks | High-Hat | Gong | Metal Wind Chimes
circa 16 minutes in duration.
The instrumentalists play independently of each other. Music is cued to begin only or at various points throughout the work. There is no ‘fixed’ synchronisation between the instrumentalists apart from the very last section at figure 14. whilst the relationship of each instrument is flexibly placed against its neighbour, care has been taken to calculate potential outcomes of coincidence and variability. To this end, it is vital that metronome markings are adhered to as accurately as possible although the composer appreciates that it is the various interpretations and practicalities inherent in the realisation of tempi that contribute to the richly unique nature and the interplay of each performance.
There is only one instruction to the players; to begin where indicated and play until their material is completed. Rehearsal marks are given in each part and do correspond across the score and parts as a whole being used as collection points throughout the work. Rehearsal marks may be used as starting points during rehearsals.
The viola material in beyond this [all had been chaos] is an expansion and further exploration of material in my viola solo hȳran [premiered by Stephen Upshaw on the 26th March at the Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London] that is presented as a micro-concerto for viola and percussion [perhaps]. Percussion material was freely devised in response to the shapes and gestures present in the viola material, transduced to suit the array of sounds available in this set-up.
The score and parts
I have not produced a score for beyond this [all had been chaos]; difficulties and variables associated with displaying the musical material in vertical alignment as represented in real time are considerable. Each performance will yield somewhat different results, interplays, gestural and harmonic references and outcomes. As a result, the material contained within the piece can only be read via the instrumental parts. Consequently, there is no definitive performance of the piece.
beyond this [all had been chaos] can only be realised through performance [as opposed to comprehended by reading through a score]; this is the nature of the music – it has to be experienced to be ‘known’.
A note about the title:
Recently searching through quotations extracted from the works of novelist, Thomas Hardy, I came across the extract below. The one phrase ‘ beyond this all had been chaos’ stood out as for me, it had musical implications around the genesis of a new piece of music forged [in my case at least] from a chaos of sound in my imagination. The music that followed is in no way connected to the quotation in any illustrative sense beyond the reference I have made above.
”He had been a lad of whom something was expected. Beyond this all had been chaos. That he would be successful in an original way, or that he would go to the dogs in an original way, seemed equally probable. The only absolute certainty about him was that he would not stand still in the circumstances amid which he was born.”
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), British novelist, poet. The Return of the Native, book third, ch. I (1878).