Solo & Duo

#cirque - bass trombone and pre-recorded track

What has become of the old circus with its lean caged animals, creaky flooring, gaudy costumes, fried food vans and chain smoking ticket seller?
Stuck in traffic, an out of work clown tweets about life’s daily annoyances to a growing audience hungry for the next distraction and amusement.
Turning Luciano Berio’s Sequenza V for solo trombone (1966) on its head, the solo bass trombone is mimicked and taunted by voices, heartbeats and the crackles of an old radio.

first performed by Ben Anderson on 11th December 2014 at the Abbotsford Convent
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This work came about listening to a piano work that Luciano Berio wrote as a university student - "Petite Suite". His work consists of classic Bach-like movements of Prelude, Petit Air, Gavotte, Musette and Gigue and all kinds of influences from the masters he was studying can be identified - including Bartok, Debussy, Prokofiev and Stravinsky.
My version has been re-composed for violin using various techniques - contrafact, magic serialism, reversing the notes, and quotes and sampling. "Quiet Girl" comes from the book of the same title by Danish author Peter Høeg that maps the story of a violin playing clown who is wanted for tax evasion...

This work was commissioned by Sarah Curro as part of VOLUME 3 - her concert series featuring new works for the violin by local composers. It was planned and sketched directly following the dreadful bushfires in Victoria, Australia in February 2009.
Looking at processes of transformation through fire, "Fire in Four Movements" suggests that fire is not only for burning but is also a source of light - visionary and spiritual.
The first movement uses three pitches, the second adds another three, the third uses these plus another three, until all 12 notes are presented in the final movement. Each movement is centred around one string of the violin (A, D, G, E respectively).
A score of this work is available from me.

This song dates from 1946 and Milton Babbitt’s (1916 - 2011) popular music past. It was published as one of Three Theatrical Songs, but as Babbitt himself explains “they’re not theatrical songs, they’re show tunes”. This quote, along with another 11 pairs form the structural basis of my radical re-interpretation. Babbitt’s sampled voice continues after the trombone enters, plotted to 12 different pitches, whilst I present and elaborate on fragments of the original tune squeezed through various delays, oscillators, and filters. The fragments themselves are derived from a close analysis of the work yielding two invariant pitch classes, a Tristan chord in original key and voicing, and some mysterious references to Arnold Schoenberg!

When first arriving in (West) Germany fleeing Hungary, Ligeti took refuge in Stockhausen’s Computer Studio at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne. The resulting works from 1957/58 were the only ones composed by Ligeti for electronics (tape delays), and were among the first of his works to attract widespread critical attention.
“Artikulation (& Glissando)” is a tribute to Ligeti’s compositional genius and inventive playfulness.
These truly analog synthesized sounds have been "liberated" and split into many smaller samples. Foot pedals allow the player to alter timing, timbre, reverberation length, and other musical parameters of the samples, which in turn influence the choice of notes, rhythms, and effects in the trombone. The reassembly and ensuing interaction of “recorded” and “played” engage the listener on a visual as well as audial level.
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I initially imagined this to herald the opening of a grim theatre piece, but it ended up becoming the beginning of a larger work for brass quintet.

This is me overdubbed playing a short section that I adapted from a 12th century chant by Pérotin from Le jeu des pelerins d'Eammaus - Drame liturgique.

This is a straightforward little tune written for Grade 2 of the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) - available in this book.
It should be played smoothly, and notice that each new phrase begins with the note that the previous phrase ends on!

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Farewell to old England forever, Farewell to my rum culls as well, Farewell to the well-known Old Bailey, Where I used for to cut such a swell.
The listener will notice that this is a set of variations on Botany Bay, the early nineteenth-century English tune about the arrival of unfortunate convicts to the unfamiliar antipodean land. Having spent most of our careers listening to, studying, and playing European or American music, this composition seeks to explore what makes a piece of music Australian. That Australia’s convict past will give any insight into this might at first seem unlikely, but as it turns out, the environment conjured in this piece is both uniquely Australian and contemporary.
The first segment of this piece describes the passage from the past into the future. The ship mediates between these two worlds, preparing its passengers for what lies ahead whilst accommodating their memories of the past. Similarly, by embracing the interactive characteristics of classical chamber music with digitalised sounds, this introduction plays a bridging role between the old and the new. Far from merely providing textual background to the instruments, the sound of water responds to and pre-empts wisps of the original song. Collectively, these sounds unfold on stage like waves.
There is nothing new about composers searching for new textures, but computers have evolved to the extent that we are now allowed instant access to sounds and effects that previously required large amounts of equipment and time behind the scenes. We believe these sounds and techniques belong on the stage and should be fully integrated into the ensemble sound. Though usually not visible, insects make a terrific sound in a noiseless environment. Released digitally, they resonate where artifice meets nature.
When pre-recorded sounds and samples are used in our ensemble, they are treated as other instrumental voices. The sounds of birds have been chosen on account of what they convey rhythmically and melodically. Also, the use of birds reflects the mobility of the people who have come to Australia – past and future – and the ability of music to translate feelings associated with migration.
Now all my young Dookies and Dutchesses, Take warning from what I've to say, Mind all is your own as you toucheses, Or you'll find us in Botany Bay.
…With this warning ends the melancholic Botany Bay, but of course, music reminds us that not all is theft and that, indeed, a healthy creative sound depends on appropriation, exchange and movement between people, times and styles.

With this piece we look to the future and how more insight into both the acoustic and the digitalized soundscape may shape the way contemporary Australian music is composed and performed. In this work, the melodic material is derived solely from two six-note tone rows, which are played alternately over the bass figure. The composed section consists of several synchronised unison fragments that separate longer passages where note combinations from one or other of the rows are explored. As with the pieces that came before, this is a passage of sound. It expresses our hope that every new piece of recorded and performed music will open another doorway to finding new ways - and revisiting old ones - of creating sound.