Ripples and Bright Sparks

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


Commissioned for SPNM’s Folk from Here project. Premiered by an ensemble led by Kathryn Tickell and Kuljit Bhamra at University of York, May 2008. Performances at RNCM, Spitalfields Festival and Cheltenham Festival (2008). This 9’ work researches the compositional possibilities of creating music for an ensemble incorporating both Indian classical musicians and instrumentalists from British folk traditions. Composed following several workshops with the ensemble, the piece engages with folk idioms as a means of devising a hybrid musical language that establishes common ground between the diverse folk traditions within the group. In attempting to reconcile the commission brief to create a notated score for instrumentalists whose practice tends towards aural dissemination and improvisation (in one instance, a complete absence of Western notational literacy) the work provides a significant point of reference. Here, the integration of improvisational and ‘open form’ passages, melodic material that can be easily disseminated both aurally and via manuscript along with structural tools appropriated from Indian music (notably the Tihai) serves to exploit the unique sonority of the ensemble while negotiating practical disparities between individual instruments and instrumentalists. The musical material itself is motivated by the repetition and expansion of melodic motifs. The folk/jazz ‘fusion’ models, Indo-Jazz Fusions (John Mayer) and Charms of the Night Sky (Dave Douglas) provide a methodological context in the use of alternating time signatures in combination with a harmonic language derived from a cluster-based, extended modality as a solution to merging the folk, improvised and new music traditions. This approach, along with the adoption of a bipartite structure, also aims to form a continuity from established folk-influenced models in musical composition evidenced in the works of Bartók and Stravinsky; part II knowingly nods to the latter’s Three Pieces for string quartet (1914) reaffirming the composer’s interest in the familiar referenced in other archived works.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Composition type: Instrumental


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