Date display area
The Resistance of Water (1996)

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solo Cor Anglais
Duration 7 minutes
Premiere 4th August 1996, Peter Veale, Internationales Ferienkurs, Darmstadt, Germany
Programme note
My work for this piece started with a rediscovery of the instrument. As in all revisitings, my new description of the instrument includes other histories as well as material missing (either unwanted or unrecognised) from earlier attempts at definitions that I felt needed to be articulated. The result is that my Cor Anglais can no longer be acceptably described in terms of a set of unitary, possible events that the instrument can produce; it must be represented rather by a (much larger) set of dynamic vectors, or pathways, between known positions. The performance envelope becomes not so much a matter of high and low notes (to take pitch as an example) marking the boundaries of a particular set of realisable events - which, subject to the technical restraints of particular instruments and performers, can be ordered without reference to each other - but a set of choices each carrying with itself an associated narrative, a necessary and unescapable past and future which are entwined with each sonic instant.

In selecting from the possible - composing, I was faced therefore, not with a list of allowed parameters (pitches, dynamics, articulations), but rather with a set of maps - of fingering-changes, embouchure changes, dynamic ranges. As can be heard from the music, this approach gives rise to notes that glissando to other notes, to pitches that successively bifurcate into chords, to events that inevitably become something else. This process is repeated on other formal levels; the piece is drawn from a suite, whose constituent parts can be performed separately even though they actually overlap each other when the whole group is played. Thus first appearances of material-strands become repetitions, isolated statements become part of larger-scale processes. There is also the (more usual) set of transformational procedures that operate within each distinct strand of material. It is perhaps this sense of intangibility, of not ever being able to define an object's nature definitively without reference to time that is alluded to by the title.
Publisher Bärenreiter-Verlag, ISMN M-006-50553-1, BA 7494
Recording Featured on Trio SurPlus - edition zeitklang - ez-60008

This page was last updated on 7th April 2008