observation 6: for piccolo, soprano saxophone, piano and percussion | duration 12.30 minutes | dedicated to Ensemble Suono Giallo
Commissioned by Ensemble Suono Giallo, premiered on the opening night concert of the Il Suono Young Composers’ Academy by Ensemble Suono Giallo, Saturday, July 15, 2017 @ 7pm, Scuola Comunale di Musica “Giacomo Puccini”, Città di Castello, Italy.
“The academy is excited for its 2016-17 collaboration with Marc. His “observation 6 [fawley down]” was commissioned by and composed for our resident ensemble, Ensemble Suono Giallo, and will receive its world premiere at this concert”.
This work had its origins in my time as Composer-in-Residence to the Observatory  where I created 2 site-specifically inspired string quartets across two residency locations in one year: As a composer and painter I have a deeply held interest in the psychological and perceptual / emotional / intuitive associations between music and painting and how ideas can be transacted one to the other. As well as creating two new string quartets I kept a video diary of the residency and creative experience, made sketches and paintings [on location] of the built and natural landscape features and explored transduction between the physical environment and sound construction transforming [intuitively] visual ideas into notation – landscape into sound. More here
observation 6 is an unforeseen extension to the work undertaken in the composition of the quartets and uses new and repurposed materials developed from observation 1, observation 1.5 and observation 1.7 in new contextual relationships.
“Marc’s intention is to compose new, experimental, string quartets inspired by the various residency locations is an excellent fit with the ethos of the project and will enhance both its scope and impact as a result of his aim to focus on all four Observatory sites across the two-year period of the project, bringing a new perspective to the single site focus of the other appointed artists-in-residence. As an artist with an established track record in musical composition Marc is bringing a new element to the project in an artform that is not represented in the artists appointed to date. Year One of the project will engage with the residencies in the Observatory at Winchester Science Centre and Lymington/Keyhaven, Hampshire”.
The opportunity to look in, look out, up, down and around; to explore the work of other artists in residence and use these observations, themes, sounds and discoveries to build my own string quartet compositions, paintings and sketches, site-specifically informed, is a fantastic new opportunity to build work in relation to the Observatory, the land and what it inspires. The four Observatory quartets will be freestanding, independent works forming a much larger-scale composition reflecting my experiences across all four residency locations.
My role as Composer-in-Residence was supported by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts, SPUD and DIVAcontemporary.
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 observation 6; 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. observation 6 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’.
circa 12.30 minutes in duration.
Marc Yeats – October 2016