Sculptures in bright blue (2014)
Dramatic scene for voice (soprano) and alto saxophone
Duration: circa 25 minutes.
Commissioned by and dedicated to KOEK duo (U.S.). February 2014
notes: The instrumentalists play independently of each other. Music is cued at several key points throughout the piece by either player. There is no ‘fixed’ synchronisation between the instrumentalists. 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 interplay of each performance.
Compositional material is derived from a series of distant variations that unify all sections with thematic landmarks. Thematic material is audible throughout the piece, bringing cohesion and structure to the work. The music itself forms dense, highly complex and constantly changing relationships that are frequently wild and sometimes beautiful.
The score and parts
I have not produced a score for sculptures in blue; 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. sculptures in blue 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 realised to be ‘known’.
Text and vocal writing:
The text is originated from prose written by me some years ago. Being a little too obvious for the compositional treatment that was to come, the expressive content [words] of the prose were subjected to various processes or ‘erosion and disfigurement’ as I passed them back and forth through an on-line universal translator until I had reached such a point of departure from the original I felt able to work with. The words presented in this work are the result of that process.
A resonance of the original prose and a degree of its structure remained and have led to a somewhat obscure, non-narrative text that is [intentionally] open to multiple interpretations. Further to this, the setting of the words does not generally encourage clarity and diction in delivery. There is much melismatic writing and the words are used more for their inherent sound properties than literal meaning and context. Of course, at times there is a collision between word setting and context that amplifies meaning in the conventional sense. As the voice and alto saxophone produce their individual lines, words and phrases, musical gestures and individual vocal characters will intertwine, compete, challenge, unify, collide, obscure and generally create a complexity of sound that will become an aural representation of the non-narrative resonant text presented here. To create this level of musical activity, both parts are very mobile and highly virtuosic, exploring the full range and dramatic presentation of the voice and alto saxophone. The music employs quartertones and extended techniques as well as dramatic, gestural writing. As mentioned, much of the clarity of word production will be intentionally obscured by these techniques. In short, the text [and therefore voice] will be treated instrumentally, and compositionally along with the alto saxophone as one in the same thing, governed by the abstract and aesthetic processes the musical material demands.