Symphony-street-souvenir (2010/2014)

for ensemble and tape (13 minutes)
fl, cl/bcl, pf, vln, vla, vlc, db, tape

Commissioned by the Ives Ensemble.

Symphony-Street-Souvenir is a piece I wrote in 2010 for the Ives Ensemble as part of a program paying homage to the Italian composer Aldo Clementi. I decided to take one typically Clementiesque musical procedure and combine it with some of his best-loved sound objects in order to make a work that is all about him but evidently not by him. The procedure in question is the gradual slowing down of the music, present in many of Clementi’s works including my all-time favourite, Madrigale (1979). In SymphonyStreet-Souvenir however, this slowing down is firstly realised in the electronic domain and as such, is accompanied by a gradual lowering of pitch. This fairly simple formal shape is repeated three times with very different sound objects and it is these processed recordings that are heard alongside the ensemble, who are playing material based on transcriptions. The second theme of the piece revolves around another problem/dilemma — why transcribe something for instruments when you will never achieve an accurate copy of the original? Perhaps because this in-between stage, this failure to achieve a satisfying transcription, this rough analysis of the extremely complex, limited by the capacities of the instrumentation, is potentially a place where musical interest lies.

performed by Ensemble Plus-Minus