The idea for this piece was initiated by my interest in composing a work based on the Seven Deadly Sins, specifically ‘Envy’. In order to convey this emotion into a tangible expression of music, I decided to write a brief poem entitled “Jealousy” and integrate the text with my own music using speech interaction as an extra-musical event. As a composer, I thought it would also be interesting for the performers to summon their acting skills in conjunction with their musical talents.
The title of this piece refers to a spiritual awakening of oneself whereby a new insight and understanding is achieved from a poignant moment of clarity. This composition represents a musical manifestation of this new awareness, and the levels of consciousness one must endure to attain a vision of inspiration. Once achieved, changes occur in patterns of thought, emotion and behaviour by which this sense of awakening propels the individual into deciding a course of action towards a singular goal. The essence of these cognitive states are embodied within the structure of this piece in that the four main sections depict the changing levels of consciousness associated to this new awareness.
‘Boult to Marina’ was composed using the text setting from a poem written by Ern Malley, a fictitious Australian poet created by James McAuley and Harold Stewart during the 1940s. For those who are unfamiliar with the notoriety, McAuley and Stewart who were themselves conservative poets concocted a ruse in an attempt to undermine the modernist literary movement espoused by the publisher Angry Penguins, a literary and art journal of the time established by Max Harris, the editor and the hoaxers’ target. They sent Harris a collection of 17 poems which were assembled in one afternoon by randomly lifting words and phrases from the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a Collected Shakespeare and a Dictionary of Quotations. Harris immediately published the poems in a special edition of Angry Penguins and was thereafter embroiled in Australia’s most celebrated literary hoax. As fascinating as the tale is, I became interested not by the controversy and repercussions of this event, but more so in the cut and paste methods adopted by the hoaxers as a means of creating a perceived unified work of art. As a composer, the challenge for me was to create a somewhat meaningful piece of music in a tongue-in-cheek style by incorporating a hodgepodge of pseudo pretentious waffle. This is the result.
The title `Kontrapunkt’ represents a personal aesthetic preference and is not intended to suggest a post-modernist association to the art of counterpoint. The piece is essentially through-composed in which a large majority of the contrapuntal textures are employed as a means of creating a tapestry of harmony without the application of stringent rules and procedures. The overall structure is realized through a framework of four main sections that do not appear as clear individual divisions, but which are designed to depict changes of character within the temporal flow of the composition.
The idea for this piece evolved from a recent hearing of a chance recording of a conversation whereby a religious discussion ensues between two people. As this conversation became quite animated, I began to notice the rhythmic and melodic contours of their voice inflections which were punctuated by their distinctive accents, and I was immediately fascinated by the thought of transcribing some of these voice samples and integrating them within a string quartet environment. Using these samples as a primary source, much of the material was generated by employing minimalist techniques such as repetition, additive and subtractive rhythms as well as metric modulation. Therefore, the focus tends to gravitate somewhat more towards rhythm than melodic and harmonic development, although the samples themselves carry humorous undertones and contribute immensely to the character of the piece.
The whole-tone scale is entirely uniform in its structure in that it consists of a succession of six whole steps which in consequence conduce to a lack of any key centre. Essentially, the scale is its own inversion and has another resultant whole-tone scale as its complement. The archetypical feature of this composition is the deployment of the whole-tone scale in conjunction with its complement to formulate all twelve tones of the chromatic scale. This technique which is known as interlocking whole-tone scales is used in this work to generate a large majority of the thematic material.
The principle strategy of this composition is to demonstrate the propagation of transitional sound colours and timbres within an electro-acoustic environment. This concept was inspired by the faculty which the chameleon (a native lizard of Africa) possesses – i.e. the unique ability to change its skin colour as a camouflage response to temperature, light and mood. The design of this piece therefore encompasses recorded samples of sounds collected from different settings, which have been sculptured to create a modulating soundscape of waveforms. The array of these samples emanate from recordings containing environmental, urban, instrumental and studio produced sounds. These recordings include wildlife sounds from Kinglake National Park, traffic noise from my residential street, samples of musical instruments and my own voice. Each of the recorded samples were spliced, manipulated and processed using digital techniques as a means of creating additional secondary source samples of sound, all of which have been assembled and selectively combined with their primary source samples.
In the autumn of 2001, I had the privilege of attending a composition seminar held at the University of Melbourne by visiting UK trombonist and conductor Barrie Webb, during which I heard a live performance of Luciano Berio’s “Sequenza V” for solo trombone. I was inspired by the array of sounds and effects emanating from the instrument and fascinated by Berio’s application of extended techniques which incorporated the voice, and decided to compose my bass trombone piece “Trequenza” as a homage to the great Italian master.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s The History of HENRY IV, this piece explores elements of mensuration canon form and was constructed from a simple theme composed in the Phrygian church mode comprising 14 measures of 3/8 time. Typically, this motive was combined with its inversion, retrograde as well as its retrograde inversion in various transpositions to generate the majority of the counterpoint and accompanying harmony. A subsidiary theme is introduced towards the latter part of the piece as a type of fanfare and provides a contrasting sonority before the return of the main theme.