Mizu to kori

VAST021-2

Track 01 Cathie Travers Cold Air Rising 12'02
Track 02 Stephen Benfall Rough Cut 18'53
Track 03 Jennifer Fowler Echoes from an antique land 10'57
Track 04 Lee Buddle Just an inkling for an angklung 2'45
Track 05 Stuart Hille Mizu to kori 12'17
Track 06 Roger Smalley Ceremony 1 13'07

Cold Air Rising for clarinet and seven percussion (1990)
The form of the piece is a simple rondo - ABACA. The "A" sections using instruments of indefinite pitch; "B" and "C" featuring the xylophone, marimba and wind instruments of the ensemble. The title of the piece was inspired by a visit to Vancouver and the islands off the coast where Emily Carr (1871 - 1945) painted and wrote about the West Coast Indian Totems, supernatural beings and tribal villages: from D'Sonoqua (her story about the wild woman of the woods)

"The rain stopped, and the white mist came up from the sea, gradually paling D'Sonoqua back to the forest. It was as if she belonged there, and the mist were carrying her home. Presently the mist took the forest too, and, wrapping them both together, hid them away."

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Rough Cut for Percussion Quartet (1993)
Closed system vs outside influence; altered destinies; exploitation; waves in longer cycles of near stasis - these are some of the elements of Rough Cut.

The four players perform with relative independence yet often as a consequence of each other. The marimbist (as 'dominator') struts while the others hardly notice - at least initially.

An epoch is a hiccup - and they all live happily ever after...

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Echoes from an antique land
Echoes from an antique land is a piece for five percussionists using tuned percussion instruments. It is a development of a piece which began life as a flute solo. In the flute piece, I was making explicit something that I've always felt strongly: namely, that rhythm and metre are quite different concepts. Rhythm, of course, is of basic importance in music, but the idea of having an underlying metre, in which the rhythms of the separate lines of music coincide all to frequently at every bar line, tends to have a constricting effect on the feeling of rhythmic flow.

In the flute piece, I was concerned to progress in bundles of notes of differing length, based on a basic pulse of demi-semiquavers, and to use the expansion and contraction of these groups of notes to emphasize the feeling of phrase. In this percussion piece, I have used this same idea, but with the added parts following differing ways of expanding and contracting within the phrase. A regular metre is also present, so that there can be a tension between the parts which emphasize metre, and those that flow over it. I have been concerned to keep the whole thing very simple, but instead of the parts coinciding frequently at barlines, they coincide at the beginnings and endings of phrases: that is, they flow in longer sections.

In a similar way, the phrases begin on a particular note centre, and gradually expand out of it. Sometimes they return to the same note centre, but mostly they expand and 'settle' on a different centre. These different centres are part of a larger design of expansion and contraction: and in the places where the feeling of settling needs to be particularly emphasized to show the end of the whole section, I have deliberately used some devices of archaic cadential formulae, to achieve extra anchorage. hence the title of the piece: Echoes from an antique land.

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Just an inkling for an angklung
Written overnight for a single performance by Nova, this little ditty has become larger than the sum of its parts. The vocal effects, originally conceived as contrast and support to the brittle and woody timbre of the Indonesian bamboo shaking instruments have become a unique attraction in 'tongue in cheek' renditions of the piece. To date there have been over 150 performances in Australia and Asia.

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Mizu to kori
This work was completed in March 1988. The title, meaning "Water and Ice" is derived from the fact that the work explores a relationship between strictly structural sections and flowing improvisatory forms. The term "Ice" refers to the two tightly controlled outer sections, both of which develop the same musical material. "Water" refers to the middle section which is intended to present an evocative contrast of structural and emotive content.

The players are positioned well apart in order to create a heightened quadraphonic effect, and to enhance the ritualistic quality of the music. I have used a transliteral Japanese title in order to numinously evoke some of the power and serenity created by that country's percussion music.

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Ceremony 1 for percussion quartet
The subtitle `for Percussion Quartet' is intended to suggest an analogy with more traditional ensembles - for example, a String Quartet. To this end there are no large percussion set-ups; in each of the work's six continuously played sections the four performers are restricted to different sizes of a single instrument - occasionally two instruments. These are - in order of appearance:
  1. claves
  2. cuica and referee's whistle
  3. side drum
  4. tam-tam
  5. bongos
  6. vibraphone and crotales.

The changing positions of the players and the movement of the sounds in space are an integral part of the musical structure. The title and the ritualistic aspects of the piece have no specific connotations, but are intended to awake personal associations in individual listeners. Ceremony 1 was commissioned by the Nova Ensemble with financial assistance from the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council.

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