new land (2021)
This is a timecode-supported polytemporal ensemble piece for seven players.
Composed for Bandwidth
clarinet in Bb
There is no programmatic intention in what unfolds as sound in this piece: any or no relationship to the title and the sounding music is forged at the discretion of the composer, performer and listener. Despite this statement, there is an unfolding of material that manifests through contrasting sections of music to hopefully provide the listener with a compelling experience even without programmatic intent. It is the interplay between and within these sections that is the narrative content of the composition.
Due primarily to the instrumentation used here, the music itself has a somewhat bucolic sound. In particular, the sonorities of the horns and oboe have, despite the material and its atonal orientation, cultural and historic connections to hunting calls and (sonic) pastoral imagery. Despite my intentions, these associations (probably) remain. In addition, and somewhat playfully, the title I have chosen, new land, reinforces a sense of ambiguity of intent between this potential bucolic soundworld and the landscape.
As is customary with my compositions, materials are self-borrowed and transformed from pre-existing works. In this case, the horn writing is drawn largely from the orchestral work, a point in the landscape (2021), and the woodwind and string writing from the shape distance 1 (2013), with all materials shared and cross-referenced throughout. In the final minutes of the piece, new material is introduced and dovetailed into a rapid collapse of the previous self-borrowed materials, introducing something more rhythmically and harmonically cohesive into the piece. Such a shift in material suggests, to me at least, the metaphorical opening of a door that allows an aural glimpse into a very different sound world. What is heard through this ‘opened door’ is the ‘new land’ referred to in the title.
I am always fascinated by how the combination of self-borrowed and transformed musical materials affect how these materials interact in time, constantly changing the vertical, harmonic and rhythmic relationships of the combined elements to alter how we perceive original materials when presented in different contexts, combinations and transformations. These contextual changes can radically alter our perception of the sounding music.
new land is dedicated to my dear friend Sylvia Junge.
Duration: circa 15 minutes
1) This work is unconducted.
2) There is no score. All notated material is within each performer’s part.
3) In located performance (as opposed to networked) the ensemble may be positioned in a spatial configuration.
4) The piece is also designed for remote or networked performance. In this particular performance format, somewhat greater degrees of latency between players and the delivery of their materials is anticipated.
5) All instrumentalists play independently of each other. The composer treats each performer as a uniquely independent voice.
6) Music is cued only at the start when all stopwatches are loosely synchronised. There are no other points of ‘fixed’ synchronisation between the instrumentalists.
7) Whilst the relationship of each instrument is somewhat 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 and timecode are adhered to as accurately as possible throughout the performance.
The Score And Parts:
There is no score for this piece. All musical material and instruction is fully notated within each player’s individual parts. Difficulties associated with displaying the musical material in vertical alignment as represented in real-time are considerable, as each instrumental voice is delivered through independent tempi. Due to this, the detail of vertical alignments and harmonic relationships will contextually change from one rehearsal and performance to another. A vertically aligned, standard score would attempt to fix these relationships on the page in such a way as to unrealistically represent the inherent flexibility and flux of performance outcomes, rendering what is represented and fixed in the score inaccurate. The composer anticipates a range of approaches that will contribute to a somewhat flexible performance. This is desirable and anticipated. Consequently, each performance will yield somewhat different results through its interplays, gestural and harmonic contexts and outcomes. Adherence to timecode ensures that the architecture of the piece remains intact but the ongoing interpretation of tempi and timecode creates contextual changes to the alignment of musical detail between all the parts. As such, there is no definitive performance; the music has to be performed or experienced to be ‘known’.
Timecode is not used to imply the use of any kind of click-track in performance or to be seen as a straightjacket to flexible performance within the orchestra and timecode framework. However, players are required to use individual mobile phone stopwatches during the performance to help structure timings, prevent long-term tempo-drift and delivery of their material to achieve an outcome that most closely matches the composer’s structural intention. Continual reference to the timecode embedded in each part when read in reference to the stopwatch is particularly useful after longer pauses or where tempo has slipped due to playing under or over the metronome markings, enabling the performer to compensate by playing a little faster or slower to ‘catch up’ or extend or cut short pauses and rests as necessary to remain broadly on track with the timecode throughout the piece. It is important to start and also complete phrases within and as close to timecode parameters as possible. Please adjust your playing speeds continually to align with the timecode.
Players synchronise their stop-watches/timing devices at 0’0”. The 0’08” timecode represents rehearsal mark 1 in all the parts and the start of the piece. I recommend a nominated member of the ensemble ‘conducts in’ the synchronisation of stopwatches at 0.0”, enabling a synchronised stopwatch start on beat 1 of bar 1. The more closely all stopwatches are synchronised, the more focused the musical structure and delivery of the piece will be. In effect, the 8 seconds between 0.0” and rehearsal mark 1 represents a countdown into the start of the piece for all players whether playing material or silent at that time.