Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Palette de Couleur et de Lumiere

Palette de Couleur et de Lumiere

The concept of a palette of instrumental colour and timbre is derived from deepest aesthetic principles of the work.  The choice of instruments are essential to the colouristic balance of the work.

Glockenspiel                                            Vibraphone
Bongos                                                    Congas
Tom-toms                                                Bass drum
Small shaker                                            Tambourine
Whistles                                                  Blowers
Flute/Alto Flute                                       Clarinet/Bass Clarinet

With the piano as the mediator, the opportunity for balanced and contrasting exploration of instrumental colour are great.  For example;

The two types of combinations are demonstrated below.  The first is cross-species representation where there is a contrast of both instrument and register.

Example 1


The second contrast intrumental colour only.

Example 2

This is similar to the first cross-species representation above.  Here however, they are of the same instrumental family-the drum.  Therefore the contrast is of timbre rather than colour.

Example 3

This is a contrast of timbre and a subtle change of register.

Example 4

With the keyboard percussion combined (which in terms of colour and register stretches a wide range)interesting cells of timbre and colour emerge. 

Example 5

The combinations are maximised when woodwind are taken into consideration:

Example 6

Example 7
                           Treble           Alto           Tenor          Bass
Catergories I        Flute          Alto Flute   Clarinet      Bass Clarinet

Catergories II       Glock.        Vibraphone.............      Pianoforte 

Catergories III      Cabasa       Tom-Tom    Congas       Bass drum

Catergories can also be made in terms of metal and wood sounding instruments:

Metal                                    Wood
Flute/(alto)                             Clarinet/(bass)
Vibraphone                             Wood blocks...

Like the previous work Apres La Mort des Artistes, the instrumental combinations are devised through an elaborate and complex plan.  The leading figurative writing is divided between instruments that are intended to dominate the texture. 

Pitch and Rhythm Generation

As this work is predominately a percussion piece for the nature of the pitch generative material is one that is closely associated with spectral processes. In other words pitch and rhythm are created side by side. Pitch and rhythm in terms of acoustics are inseparable-partials are elements of rhythmic displacement from the fundamental tone, tributaries form the main source. The displacement of rhythm causes irregular reverberations and alters the frequency of the tone. It is the amplitude of these pitches that determines the timbre and the colour of the tone.( Every acoustic tone consists of a multiplicity of overtones and partials that are semi-suppressed or active). The 'palette' of colour is derived from the conflict of rhythm and pitch that is created by the disparagement between the main tone and its off-shoots.  Wave lengths are often drawn as regular curve lines that gradually expanding and then contracting in curvature but in reality pitch tones played on acoustic instrument rarely display such simple pattern. In acoustic instruments (violin,flute, trumpet and clarinets) the same pitch undergoes incredibly different manipulation according to the material its made of, manner in which the instrument is played, etc... The note is passed through several bands of partials of which some remain dormant due to their relative low amplitude or some partials come to the foreground. This effectively is an essential element that gives an instrument its sense of timbre and colour:

Model of Tone Reverberation


Flute Sonatine 1st Movement

The Flute Sonatine came at the height of my obsession with the works of Pierre Boulez. In 1947, he wrote a Flute Sonatine for piano and flute as a result of a suggestion by his then teacher, RenĂ© Leibowitz. with whom he was later to have a notorious falling out.

"With a red pen, [Rene] Leibowitz began marking up the manuscript [to Boulez's first sonata], then dedicated to him. Grabbing the score, Boulez fled, shouting at Leibowitz "vous etes de la merde!" Three years later, Boulez's publisher Herve' Dugadin asked him if the dedication should remain on the printed score. As Boulez shouted "Non!" he stabbed the manuscript with a letter opener until it was virtually in shreads." 
His Sonatine fuses together the two waring factions of Stravinsky and Schoenberg in terms of rhythm and harmony. It is described by David Schiff as,

releasing in the sonatina an explosion of musical violence, nervousness, and instability.
My Flute Sonatine, for solo flute, is intended to have a similar effect. It's frantic wild leaps of the second movement are possessed with a wildness of spirit that is close to insanity.  The struggle to play the music is part of the effect.  Brian Ferneyhough spoke about this in an interview with Colin Blakemore about pushing the performers to the extremity of their capabilities.

The first movement is somewhat different to the second. It starts very quietly, almost timid in character.  The lines of canon are clearly exposed.  The notation helps to reveal the contrapuntal writing. Each phrase has it's opposing counter theme, usually inverted.  Steadily, the momentum gathers pace and builds up to the frenzy that is the second movement.

The American virtuoso flautist, Nancy Ruffer is the performer on this recording.

Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Google+ Followers