Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Composition (2010) No. 5

For a trio of any three instruments

Imagine a labyrinth (the above will do, but any 2D or plan-view of a maze of sufficient complexity will suffice, providing it has a recognisable centre). It may help to place an image of the maze in front of you as you play, by way of a 'score'.

The first performer should imagine s/he must trace a continuous pencil-line through the maze from the entrance on the perimeter to the centre. The melodic 'line' that you play on your instrument should follow your imaginary pencil-line. If you must pause to think about where to turn, then you must pause. If you have gone the wrong way and must go back on yourself, then you must go back on yourself, retracing your steps the way you have come. But just as your pencil should not leave the page - neither should your fingers at any point leave your instrument.

Once the first performer has succeeded in going a sufficient distance into the labyrinth, the second performer should then give chase, following the line of the first performer into the maze. All the while, however, the second performer should be speeding up (accelerando) in order to try and 'catch' the first performer.

Once the first performer feels like the second performer has nearly caught up with them, they may 'jump', as it were, through one of the borders of the maze (it is up to the individual performer how this 'jump' is achieved through musical means, but the analogy must be sufficient for the audience, and especially the second performer, to recognise it). This leaves the second performer trapped in a loop, unable to go beyond the point at which the first performer 'jumped', unable to trace their path all the way to the exit, left to circle interminably. The first performer may then continue to the centre of the maze.

In the maze's centre, while the second performer continues to loop, the first performer now finds themselves forced to circle quite quickly around a small number (say, three or four) notes with fairly small intervals between them. For here, the first performer has encountered the 'minotaur' (our third performer).

Upon recognising the arrival of the first performer in the centre of the labyrinth, the third performer also begins to circle around the same number of notes - albeit with larger intervals between them and lasting for greater durations, as befits the minotaur's greater stature.

At an appropriate point, the first performer begins to 'flee', back through the labyrinth, and the third performer gives chase, following the line of the first performer, albeit slightly slower.

Finally, all three performers should meet at the point in the labyrinth where our second performer has been left in a loop. At which point they 'fight' - using repeated, stabbing single notes, of increasing force (crescendo) as 'weapons'. The 'fight' - and the composition - ends when all three players are dead.

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

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