Seven Waves

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This is another piece for instrument and live/pre-recorded electronics. It uses quite a lot of extended techniques, and requires the flautist to speak as well as play. I think it’s quite hard! The electronics are based on a very complicated Csound system I wasted spent about a year and a half developing, which allowed me to build up thick granular sound ‘clouds’, based on the harmonic series, from single (flute) sounds. I quite like the sounds this produces – I might make a Max patch to do the same thing one of these days. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

The flautist and the tape are speaking in the same language – a language made up of the sounds of the flute and the voice – but are saying completely different things. Although the tape is made entirely from flute and voice sounds, it is essentially abstract, a landscape of sculpted forms, cold, and at times almost violently un-human.

The flautist explores this landscape, following a winding path of free material, almost improvisatory in character. In contrast to the tape, the flute part concentrates very much on the human qualities of performance. Many sections exhibit all-too human qualities of nervousness, panic and hysteria, with the flautist’s voice being used to theatrical, melodramatic effect; others however are calm and dreamlike.

Electronic amplification is used to ‘zoom-in’ on the flute, to reveal a secret inner world of breath sounds, clicking keys, and mysterious whistling tones. The live electronics similarly function as a kind of microscope, picking out elements of the flute part and magnifying them out of proportion.

Additional Notes

• Written for flautist John Wesley-Barker, who gave the premiere performance.
• Premiere performed with BEAST, as part of the rumours series, at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham (It is a recording of this concert that is heard here).
• Several subsequent performances with BEAST.
• Won third prize in the mixed category of the Concorso Luigi Russolo (Varèse,Italy).
• This (live) recording performed by Dave Jervis (flute) and Tim Cooper (electronics), May 2011

in Sound