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Archive for August, 2016

Entangled States


This present project and my last CD, the three sonatas, could hardly be more contrasted. The sonatas were large scale works, No. 8 lasting almost an hour, whereas Entangled States is comprised of 48 short pieces. 12 are in Middle Order and High Order format. Two realisations of each of these is planned. There are 24 Low Order pieces. If you require clarification regarding my non-prescriptive techniques please go to the introduction to the blog where you will find an explanation.

Why short pieces? Over the years I have gained an increasing  respect, tantamount to awe, when, by reading science, I stumble upon simple, elegant mathematical equations which are the distillations of so much innovative thinking and experimentation by hugely intelligent scientists and mathematicians. Some of these are pinned upon my studio door – Einstein, Dirac, Euler, Mandelbrot. I always find them to be quite inspirational.

For quite some time, years, I have had an idea percolating that I might attempt in my own field to emulate this process of distillation however badly. And again, as you saw in my last post, you might recognise links between my interest in science and music. Cosmology with large scale sonatas, quantum science with very short pieces, most lasting barely 2 minutes.

I have previously written many short pieces, most of them having been given away or carelessly lost, misplaced, but never have I written so many, so exclusively with such intensity and focus, and with such a strict self-imposed discipline. Each piece must of necessity be concise. Every note, every phrase must be there for a purpose. An immediacy has to be established. There has to be a clarity of ideas and a clarity of the expression of those ideas. There is an intriguing creative self-imposed limitation in the presentation, a sparseness, almost a brutality in these acts of reductivism. Writing the short pieces ultimately became the art of omission. This is quite the opposite of enjoying the luxury of being able to develop, to discuss and evolve ideas at great length as I did in the sonatas. More than anything I relish the opportunity of being able to extend an initial motif, seeing where this takes me, how many different facets of its character I can discover, giving it the time to reveal its secrets to me.

Also pinned to my laboratory door is a quote from a book entitled “Quantum – A Guide for the Perplexed” by Jim Khalili. He states “The quest for the ultimate truths is always a quest for beauty and simplicity” I agree so completely with that, Jim, and that statement in itself is an example of complexity of thought simply and beautifully expressed.

Unlike “Set for Piano” which was structured tonally, there being a slow graduation from Low Order (predominantly tonal) to High Order (atonal) formats, I have decided not to present the 48 short pieces in any predetermined specific sequence. This ordering becomes one of the responsibilities of the performer. Bear in mind that one of the principles of my non-prescriptive philosophy is to reduce the presence of the composer as one who fixes the parameters. Another is to abnegate, relinquish ownership of the scores once these are in the possession of the performer

The collisions, the juxtapositions, the resulting kaleidoscope made by the contrasting pieces is intended to set up tensions and dynamics when heard in the context of the overall performance. To what extent this will occur is a variable, being totally dependent on both the ordering of the scores by the performer and the manner in which the realisations are articulated.

A date for the recording has been set but more of this in my next post.

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