The two from Rastibon could start a hailstorm

I have a new piece on the 2nd of May. I can’t wait. It’s for two alto saxophones and electronic sounds. It was commissioned by Anthony Brown and he’ll be performing it with Carl Raven as part of The House of Bedlam’s  Decontamination concert.

At the forefront of my mind when writing this was the way the players coordinate, interact and communicate. The opening requires constant communication between the duo then, as the piece progresses, the players gradually appear less and less coordinated. However this is sometimes at odds with the sound of the music. There are three kinds of notation to emphasise/play-with this: conventional, time-space and ‘speech’. The speech notation informs the rhythm and the quality of sound and moves through chant (i.e. unison), conversation, argument and soliloquy. The text is from Lars Von Trier’s extraordinary film Antichrist responding to the breakdown of the relationship of the two protagonists and the mix of different natural and stylised filming techniques (not, in this case, the sensationalised sexual and violent imagery). The title, also from the film, originates in Malleus Maleficarum, the fifteenth-century treatise on witches, in which there is a description of the hailstorms alleged to have been caused by two women in Ratisbon, Germany.

From Antichrist, Lars Von Trier, 2009

In my mind my last three pieces (hollow yellow willowhappy/boomf/fat and this one) are three very different approaches to comparable ideas leading to radically different sounds. In each case they are concerned with antiphonal movement, duo relationships and sharing materials. This piece is, in some respects, the most elaborate (and I suspect the most difficult to play).

I’m so grateful to Anthony and Carl for learning it; it’s a commitment.

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