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LAMINA for orchestra and trombone - 1977

The fundamental formal concept of LAMINA is derived from the possible relationships between the two sets of opposites: mass and point, layers and line. The soloist functions as the central point-line of these relationships in a harmonic/melodic process that sounds out the range of possibilities from vertical/horizontal, fixed/static to free/dynamic.

There are sections in the work where the soloist conducts a large part of the orchestra, gradually handing them back to the conductor, as well as sections where he provides the sound material which the orchestra imitates, absorbs or transforms, either as individuals or as a group, in a process of structured improvisation

The premiere and recording of LAMINA - for the Saarlaendischer Rundfunk, Saarbruecken - was made by A.Rosin, trombone, with the Orchestra of the SR, conducted by Hans Zender in 1977.

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LIEBESLIED for orchestra and alto - 1974

The work consists of several linked sections in which symmetries and asymmetries are explored from various points of view - harmonic, melodic, timbral, dynamic - and the attempt is made to relate everything to common centers.

Every aspect is explored from its opposite perspective, for example: the work itself is both symmetrical and asymmetrical, the disposition of forces is similarly both symmetrical and asymmetrical, the harmonic textures are symmetrical (harmonic/subharmonic) ones or asymmetrical ones (tonal/modal), the evolution of density is similarly symmetrical and asymmetrical, etc.

The alto sings a poem by Douglas Mellor:

he lived in a city of bees
ate walls
and his brother climbed a tower of clouds
his sister too had a lover
another
who moved and higher higher
made his day somewhere else

 

The premiere and recording of LIEBESLIED for the Saarlaendischer Rundfunk took place in Saarbreucken in 1974 and was made by the Symphony Orchestra of the SR conducted by Hans Zender, with Monika Buergener, alto.

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 KLAVIERSTUECK 1-2 - constellations - for amplified piano with live electronics - 1973

The structural ideas for this composition evolved from a study of a number of major constellations and from taking account of the fact that many stars which we assign as belongong to a group forming a constellation often lie very far apart from one another in the universe. Employing a vast variety of techniques of electronic production and modulation of sounds in this piece, it was my intention to establish connections between events and colours which were similarly very distant from one another.

The premiere and recording of KLAVIERSTUECK 1-2 was made by Harald Boje, piano, Elektronium and tape recorder, for the Saarlaendischer Rundfunk, Saarbruecken 1973.

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 PHASE for orchestra (and live transposition/delay) - 1972

In composing Phase, I concentrated primarily upon the interaction between timbre, harmony and rhythm, upon how a particular structuring of one would influence the perception of the other. Experiments with a variety of complex natural sounds and noises - in which I recorded the sounds and, by playing them back at extremely slow speeds, was able to analyse them into their components - led me to the initial concept for the work: a sequence of 'static' sound fields or 'blocks' which would be 'animated' in various ways.

This animation is carried out both by determinate, statistical or partly improvised means and involves processes such as the polyrhythmic articulation of the individual pitches which go to make up a 'block', the phase-shifting or transposed superposition - either instrumental or electronic - of a block with itself, the gradual and systematic transformation of the instrumentation within a block, the change of balance between pitch and noise in the overall tone content of a block, etc.

The result is a process of structural development of these types of subsurface "animations", in which the sounds, at one and the same time, are arrested in suspension and go racing by, and the ear gravitates towards their inner, tumultuous life. There is no development in the traditional sense; new sounds simply take over from old ones - no time for transitions - and every moment serves as a jumping-off point for the next.

The premiere and recording of PHASE for the Saarlaendischer Rundfunk took place in Saarbruecken in 1972 and was made by the Symphony Orchestra of the SR conducted by Hans Zender, with the composer operating the live electronics.

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PROTOTYPEN (prototypes) : peripatetic music for 4 orchestral ensembles - 1973

The originating idea was to disassemble a typical symphony orchestra and create a number of independent ensembles. Furthermore, every musician was to have a much greater influence over the evolution of the music than is the case in traditionally notated and conducted music.

This would require a composition in which the visual information transmitted to the musicians - notes, signs, gestures - which serve to synchronise the ensemble, is transformed into acoustic information and in which fixed, determinate forms are replaced by processes, in which each musician enters a continuous loop of listening - playing - pausing - deciding - reacting.

This type of "acoustic coupling" of the musicians is explored in PROTOTYPEN in several ways.
In TYPE 1, the sound events are prescribed in abstract form and the qualities that give them concrete form are desribed in a process, e.g. the musician decides when he will play, how loud, how long.
In TYPE 2, the sound events are freely improvised but because each event serves as the beginning of a chain of reactions to it, it determines the overall flow for a considerable time.
In TYPE 3, the processes of the above two are combined: the players begin with a prescribed event, yet independently, each on his own, and gradually become locked together in increasing dependence upon one another. As soon as total dependence arises, they gradually reinvent their independence, without rejecting dependence.

The performance: four ensembles of different instrumentation are placed into four separate yet contiguous spaces. Each ensemble plays either: each one the TYPES once or three different versions of only one TYPE. The audience is free to wander in and out of the spaces (or to straddle the border between any two spaces.)

The premiere and recording of PROTOTYPEN for the Saarlaendischer Rundfunk, Saarbruecken, took place in Saarbruecken in 1973 and was made by the Symphony Orchestra of the SR, rehearsed by Hans Zender and the composer.

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RESONANZEN for 8 unconducted orchestral groups - 1976

Similar to PROTOTYPEN, the mandate of the commission was to examine the traditional structure of the orchestra and how it influences and informs orchestral composition and performance practice.

An orchestra totalling 64 players is divided into 8 groups: four groups consisting only of strings and four groups of mixed wind and percussion. These 8 groups are spread out in a large circle surrounding the audience. This unusual placement of the players is crucial: as the timing, synchronisation and a major part of the content of the composition will be based upon an 'acoustic coupling' of the players and not by a conductor or a temporally fixed score, every musician must be able to hear every other musician sufficiently clearly.

The musical material employed has many different forms. There are sections that are completely notated, determinate, which are, however, played completely independently, resulting in a 'phase-shifting' of detail. There are sections in which each musician has a "nest" of events which he permutates, either independently or in a chain, relating or reacting to what a counterpart has played. There are sections in which the members of one group react to an improvised event played by another group, either individually or as a group. There are sections in which the percussionists - placed at the four cardinal points in the circle - play a major role in the global synchronisation of the musical flow. Each percussionist is allied to a wind group. They in turn react to each attack of the percussionist, either starting to play or stopping something they are playing, or changing the quality or tempo of what they are playing,... and so forth.

The master 'score' of the piece consists of 16 sections. It emerges from a single homogeneous mass sound, gradually branching out to a point in which all 8 groups are independent, and arrives at a point where only one group predominates for a considerable time. This forms the 'middle' of the piece, after which the process reverses again and returns to a mass sound, but this time with every musician playing completely independently.

The listeners in the centre of the circle - also able to hear almost everyone equally well - must find their way, employing their ears like a compass: directional hearing is of utmost importance. The concentration must be guided, from one momentraily predominating group to the next as well as towards the overall sound. The immersion in such a large acoustic space often filled with a complexity of highly volatile and colourful sound tends to make RESONANZEN as much a challenge for the listener as it is for the performers.

The premiere and recording of RESONANZEN for the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Cologne, took place in Cologne in 1976 and was made by the Symphony Orchestra of the WDR, rehearsed by Lukas Vis and the composer.

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RONDELL for trombone and delay - 1975

The trombone is recorded live and played back twice: after a delay of about 3.5 seconds and a delay of 7 seconds, resulting in three layers. The score is based primarily upon many processes of expansion and contraction, each one concentrating for a while upon a different aspect of the musical material: pitches, timbres, register, dynamics, etc.

Due to the delayed playback, structures arise which are almost always symmetrical, grouped around a centre in patterns of superposition that seem to have been temporarily arrested but are actually continually shifting and unfolding.

The tile is derived from a contrapuntal musical form based entirely upon the exact exchange of melodic material between three voices, as described in the 14th Century by W.Odington.

The premiere of RONDELL took place in Amsterdam in 1975 and was performed by Jon English; the first recording was also made by him for the WDR, Cologne in 1976.

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SPEKTRA for 4 trumpets and 4 trombones - 1974

Every complex sound may be viewed as consisting of a superposition of several simple periodicities. This perspective led me to SPEKTRA, where the same principle lies at the heart of each of the five sections: the values of all parameters are determined by single, or superpositions of several simple periodic processes. In this sense, it is a series of variations on a theme that never steps into the forground, functioning only as a determining and ordering principle.

The premiere of SPEKTRA took place in Witten in 1974 by an ad hoc ensemble consisting of musicians from the Symphony Orchestra of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk and was recorded by the WDR, Cologne in the same year

 

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