Hexagram of the Heavens for 6-string electric bass, effects pedals and soundtrack and Hex 2 for bass clarinet, SABRe, live sound processing and soundtrack
Context and Aims
The ‘Hex’ series, originating in a commission for 6-string electric bass and electronics, facilitated further investigation of threads from previous works including reference to popular music, aleatoric approaches to structure, unifying properties of pitch class sets and improvisation in written material and live sound processing (cf. ‘Tease’, ‘Stung’, ‘Shake’ and Thud).
Methodologies and Findings
Acknowledging the idea of ‘six-ness’(Heaton) in Boulez’ ‘Domaines’, the music is presented on six pages, each containing a number of cells based on two main gestures. Melodic fragments from Joni Mitchell’s ‘Amelia’ are harmonically filtered through permutations of the all-triad hexachord (0,1,2,4,7,8) creating cells which are assembled freely by the performer into longer sections. The performer goes through the six pages once, improvising using the cells, after which they go through the six pages again, selecting different cells to construct twelve main sections overall. The live part and the soundtrack overlap to obscure sectional boundaries in a Lutosławski-inspired chain form.
The electronic soundtracks contain sonic structural signals at key points in the timeline and comprise transformed samples of 6-string electric bass and bass clarinet in the respective pieces. The performer is encouraged to improvise to expand the sonic palette using effects pedals on the bass and using SABRe on bass clarinet.
Hexagram of the Heavens, commissioned by PRSF Beyond Borders, has been performed by Simon Jermyn and the composer in Spectrum, NYC, US, 28 October 2015, Club Inégales in the London Jazz Festival, London, UK, 21 November 2015, Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Ireland, 22 November 2015 and Great Hall, Derry, UK, 24 November 2015. Due to Covid restrictions, Hex 2 was premiered by Marcella Barz on YouTube, 19 December 2020.