Friday, 16 July 2010

Composition (2010) No. 1

For any ensemble of strings (and / or trombones, crumhorns, etc.)

The players should all be sat in a circle, each should imagine before him the letters

C, D, E, F, G, A, B,

in other words, the scale of C major. These are the only notes you are allowed to play throughout the piece and, excluding the opening chord, you are only allowed to play each note once.

To begin with, starting notes are:

G above that C,
E above that G,
D above that G,
F above that D,
B above that F, and
A above that B.
[using only the first few lines for smaller groups, and repeating notes in the same order for larger groups]

String players will never leave their starting string, so try and pick one that gives you the greatest chance of bumping into your neighbours.

All musicians play a sustained chord on their starting notes for 7 beats, after the 8th beat, all players begin sliding up or down their chosen string in contrary motion, ceasing your glissando and holding a note only if:

You cross notes with another player, then keep sliding to the next note in C which you have not yet played and hold that note;

If you realise that to continue sliding would make it impossible to land on a note from C which you have not yet played due to the approaching extremes of the string, then simply find the next usable note and hold it;

Or, If you hear any other players have stopped sliding.

Once all four players are holding any given note they should look at each other, count for 6 beats, and then repeat, sliding in the opposite direction, pausing for consecutively fewer beats on each held chord, until finally, having reached, as it were, zero beats, the last note of the scale is held for 8 beats and the piece comes to an end.

[Please contact me in the event of any public performance of this piece]

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