Devil's Music, The
Distant Shore, A
From Fire Co..
Ghosts of Reason
Going Into Sh ..
I Am Black
I Am Writing...
In Tempore Stellae
Journey to Horse..
Lines Drawn Fr..
Meaning of Water
Once upon a time
Quicksilver Ser ..
Song of Songs
Sound Lur and...
St Peter's Suite
Stick Dance II
Stick Dance III
Symphony No. 1...
Symphony No. 2...
Symphony No. 3...
To the evening...
The Devil's Music (Contrafactum II)
1 . The Gap
3. Orsanmichele with Busker
4 . durch Sturm und Wind
5 . Constellations
8. O tu angelica socia . . .
The eight sections of the piece should be seen more as signposts than
movements in the conventional sense.
There are confusing collisions which can in themselves be moments of the
utmost clarity. Very often these moments consist of irreconcilable synchronicities,
such as standing in the alley outside Orsanmichele in Florence with the
church's three crazy tiny bells (one cracked) drowning out a flute playing
busker (the bells are going nowhere, the busker is moving on) and the
worrying chatter of thirty Year 12 Australian private school girls 'come
to see the centre'. (Perhaps the Australian condition is one of eternal
tourism. When do we arrive?) This sort of cultural contradiction is inspirational
for me. More and more my music has been influenced by cinema with its
capacity for complex interleaving of stories, epigrammatic and discontinuous
structures and blurring of past, present and future.
To set the scene for The Devil's Music a little more:
- Contrafactum is an old term - meaning to put new words to an old song.
I use it because it describes a principle in some of my music. Namely,
that of reusing material by starting with an earlier piece and grafting
on new layers and making old structures bend to the whim of new invention.
This guarantees a sort of continuity in the work whilst allowing new ideas
to evolve. In this piece most of the old material is from my earlier work
(some of which, in turn, was based on other things) with other allusions
as much textual as musical - "durch Sturm und Wind" to Goethe's
Erlkönig ("Who rides so late through the night and the wind?
It is the father with his child;") and "O tu angelica socia
. . ." to Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum (" Angelic comrade,
how comely you are in the royal nuptials! I cover over, drive away or
tread down all the filths of the Devil. Yours is a part in the building
of heavenly Jerusalem flowering among shining lilies.")
- Every idea in The Devil's Music is either moving towards or away from
the listener. At various times the listener is on a wild roller-coaster
ride or at the centre of a constellation of spinning satellites. The musical
characters are like satellites that keep spinning, even when out of sight.
- There are a few sounds that keep returning over and over: an immobile
stationery structure - like rocks - with a surface - like water - running
over it. Various source objects float through the piece: the sound of
distant sirens, the beating of wings, the rumble of distant engines, calls
and groans, half remembered hymns, and the wind-borne sound of bells.
- Music that is devoid of large-scale harmonic motion has become dull
for me. Two of the greatest strengths of Western music (and the two most
difficult to meld with various Asian musics) are the expressive power
that comes from moving from one chord to another and the capacity to lay
out a large architectural structure with pitch centres. The question then
is how to recapture that expressive force and that great grinding down
of formal shape without going backwards.
- For quite a while I have forced myself to stretch out ideas but that
has begun to feel boring. Why should you eat the vegetables when desert
looks so good. The piano Preludes of Scriabin (the other side of the coin
to Webern) are a model in this - some are as short as 30 seconds but seem
to contain the symphonic force of works 50 times as long. The Devil's
Music is not so much episodic as like being in a hall of mirrors - what
is real and what is reflection can become such a paradox that you touch
yourself to see if you - indeed - are real or a chimera.
I am fascinated by the power of music; it effects me physically, emotionally,
intellectually - in every way. Philosophers, composers, musicians have
always known of this power - music has the power to possess the listener;
to possess and enthral. In spite of all the developments of technique
and idea for composers since World War Two nothing has changed about that
sort of power and beauty.
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