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A Catalogue of Targets (1995)

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For bass-flute (+picc.), oboe, Eb clarinet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano and percussion.
Duration 17 minutes
Premiere 24th January 1997, Ensemble Recherche, Hessischer Rundfunk, Frankfurt.
Programme note
In the run-up to the (first) Gulf War, a U.S. General's answer to the question 'what are you going to do?', included the following phrase:- 'we have a catalogue of targets'.

As a composer, I naturally have my own, personal, catalogue (and that it is fundamentally different from the objects of American Imperialist aggression should be made clear). This piece 'deals with' a number of my targets; they are approached, over-run, obscured and, sometimes, exploded into fragments - which then reappear periodically like persistent memories of disturbing events. There are 5 main sections, each taking as its starting point, material that forms it's 'target' - from the exotic, sensual, bass flute opening to the hard edged and desperate lurches of the last section.

Another formal layer is articulated through instrumentation - each player plays one or two (mostly unpitched) percussion instruments in addition to their 'normal' speciality. There is thus a continual, dynamic tension between pitched and unpitched sounds. Due to the number of players involved, this gives the opportunity for sustained and rapid juxtaposition of highly differentiated material fragments occupying very different positions within the noise/note spectrum.

The extended use of quasi-military terms in this thumbnail sketch of the piece should not be taken as implying a particular resonance within the music for military action - these processes are, quite simply, part of my normative palette of transformational devices and hence can be found to a greater or lesser (usually greater) extent in all my music. That a descriptive parallel can be drawn at all between the formal narrative procedures of the late twentieth Century and state organised atrocities is simply a reflection of our (sad) times.

Finaly, this is not a 'political' piece - it is a musical piece. That it is unable to be the one without becoming the other may be considered a cause for hope.

A Catalogue of Targets was commissioned by Ensemble Recherche with funds provided by the Ministerium für Familie, Frauen, Weiterbildung und Kunst Baden-Württemberg.

This page was last updated on 7th April 2008