an uncomfortable condition [2016]

an uncomfortable condition [2016]

For Flute, 2 violins, viola, violoncello and double bass | duration 12 minutes | dedicated to Grainne Mulvey

2478147_1_lan uncomfortable condition is commissioned by La Côte Flûte Festival 2016.  It received its first performance with ‘zero theorem’: Carla Rees [flute] Minsi Yang Johnson & Nuno Carapina, violins, Stephen Upshaw, viola, Patrick Tapio Johnson, cello and Siret Lust, double bass will give the premiere on the opening night of the festival. at Théåtre de Grand-Champ, Gland, Switzerland on the 6th October 2016. More information here.

an uncomfortable condition is an asynchronous piece of ensemble music that navigates the changing relationship between Frederick II and Voltaire using the development of  their lifetime correspondence  as the basis for three connected phases of music that  explore aspects of love, disagreement and  confrontation and eventual resolution and  insight.

The composed music is an abstract response to the  elemental state of these conditions as  well as the fluid nature of transition between them.  The music has no programmatic  intentions beyond articulating something of the nature of these  ‘correspondence inspired’  contrasting phases.

“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”  Voltaire  

 

Asynchronous composition – notes:   The instrumentalists play independently of each other. Music is cued to begin only with instruments starting at the same time. There is no ‘fixed’ synchronisation between the instrumentalists. Whilst  the relationship of each instrument is flexibly placed  against its neighbour, care has been taken to calculate potential outcomes of coincidence and variability. To this end it is vital  that metronome  markings and time code are adhered to as accurately as possible although the composer appreciates  that it is  the various interpretations and practicalities inherent in the realisation of tempi that  contribute to the richly unique nature and  interplay of each performance.

Compositional material  is derived from a series of distant variations that unify all sections with thematic landmarks. Thematic material is audible throughout the piece, bringing cohesion and structure to the work.  All the instrumental roles are written to a high degree of virtuosity and most contain extended  techniques and quarter-tones. The music itself forms dense, highly complex and constantly  changing relationships that are frequently wild and sometimes beautiful.

The score and parts:  I have not produced a score for an uncomfortable condition; difficulties and variables associated with displaying the musical material in vertical alignment as represented in real time are considerable.  Each performance will yield somewhat different results, interplays, gestural and harmonic references  and outcomes. As a result, the material contained within the piece can only be read via the  instrumental parts. Consequently there is no definitive performance of the piece. an uncomfortable condition can  can only be realised through performance [as opposed to comprehended by reading  through a score]; this is the nature of the music – it has to be experienced to be ‘known’.

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