Sketch for orchestra is a short extract of a recent composition called "Narcissistic". The original work began a few years ago.
|Narcissistic (I) - revised version with percussion.|
It marks a significant change in the direction of my music. Until recently, I have been writing chamber music (including a lot of solo instrumental pieces). Now, I have decided to mainly write for orchestra. This is a challenging decision because the economic situation at the moment means that it is incredibly difficult to get orchestral music performed. I already have two pieces of music that has yet to be performed, ("Transcience" and "La Cloche Felee") and they are nearly twenty years old. The thought of writing more music that is never played is an unwelcome one.
The transition hasn't been easy either. Writing chamber music means you have the freedom to compose anything you want but with orchestral music many factors need to be taken into account. Complexity has to be crafted in a very careful way; making sure that the orchestra is able to succumb difficulties. I admire Ferneyhough's artistic work but his orchestral pieces, as adventurous as they are, are more like an extremely large chamber works - the concept of an orchestra rarely features (but this is probably exactly what he wants). It is fascinating that he has written so few full orchestral works. I think James Dillon has the edge where orchestral music is concerned. Juggling the conflicting aspects of being adventurous, playable and orchestral is extremely difficult.
'Narcissistic (I)' took an unusually long time to write. It was the best part of a year from start to finish. It is my first completed orchestral work. Whereas 'Sketch for Orchestra', which will become the second piece in the "Narcissistic" series, only took three days to write and that is closer to my thinking process.
'Sketch' comprises of a simple 'theme'. The opening (a group of demisemiquavers tied to a long note) theme in strings generates the thematic material throughout the entire composition. There is constant interplay between the woodwind theme and the brass and the strings.
Because of financial concerns, modern music is predominantly composed for small groups of instruments. This has had two major effects. Composers have been able to write with complete freedom and audiences have declined but are more discerning. In an unintentional way, this has led to a more isolated environment which perpetuates the myth that modern music is elitist and esoteric. If you look at the composers who have attracted the greater share of the audience of modern music (Stockhausen, Xenakis and Ligeti) you will notice that they have a substantial body of orchestral music in their repertoire. In my opinion, orchestral music is the future of twenty-first century music.