Terrains 2016

for solo quarter-tone flugelhorn with preparations

Commissioned by Tristram Williams/ELISION Ensemble

Programme Note:

It's certainly not really about development, such as the word is usually defined. Nor is it really about contrast.

In one way I suppose it's more like watching an earwig or a mountain goat weave its way across different planes - some steep, some high, some tight, some sprawling - and watching that same creature accommodate such different lands in its gait.

And yet, in another way, it's about the land itself. A mountain not just as a relief but as an imprint in the sky. And how - just like the "Gestalt Vase" (is it a vase or two opposing faces?) - one's impression oscillates between foregroundings of these different states. Relief/imprint. Pitch/noise.

[terrains] was written for Tristram Williams, in friendship and the sincerest admiration.

Further Notes:

I first met Tristram Williams while working on ymrehanne krestos with ELISION, so the opportunity to create a new solo piece for this spectacular Australian virtuoso trumpeter was an absolute honour and privilege. A lot of my work recently has been concerned with superimposing layers of behavioural mechanisms, that positioned in spaces that allow each to effect oneanother. Each behavioural layer could in some senses be seen as 'static' - i.e. it is closed, non-evolving, remaining within a fixed bandwidth of tropes. In superimposing the layers and encouraging entwinement and contradiction between the classes of tropes, a dynamism is activated. Unique moments occur, which would be otherwise absent if the layers were presented individually. In this piece, I am developing this scenario by way of considering the layers as terrains for one another, as if each behaviour layer was simultaneously something that is traversing a unsympathetic landscape and a landscape to be traversed by something else. In a way, I suppose it's like the idea of terrain and landscape as antiform - in the sense that Virilio uses the term at the beginning of Negative Horizons, but I'll assess the appropriateness of this descriptor at a later date...