to the last syllable


This is a piece for four voices and what we called at the time ‘tape’ (ie pre-recorded electronics). It’s a very dense piece – I was very influenced by Luciano Berio at the time, in particular his 60s postmodern masterpiece ‘Sinfonia’. This piece weaves an incredibly complex web of elements together – there’s no way the listener can hear everything at the same time, so they are left to pick their own way through the ‘labyrinth’. I really like this idea, and the way it can turn what is essentially a linear experience into a non-linear one. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

It’s about time, and our perceptions of it. It’s about history, stories. The text is an amalgam of literally hundreds of sources – ‘stories’ – whilst the tape employs recognisable sounds to tell a story of its own. All these threads are interleaved and overlaid into a rich and complex narrative tapestry. The multiple stories, seen as illustrations, articulations, of the passing of time, reflect time as a multi-dimensional phenomenon of probabilities, possibilities and impossibilities, flowing at different speeds for different people in different places and situations.



Additional Notes

• Commissioned by Sonic Arts Network.
• Performed on South Bank, then toured nationwide.
• Broadcast on Radio 3.
• Selected by the BBC for presentation at the International Rostrum on ElectroAcoustic Music.
• Revised version performed by Electric Phoenix at IRCAM and by Singcircle at the Dartington International Summer School.

in Sound