Monday, 11 July 2011

Quarter-tone Alto flute, Soprano and Electronics

Writing for Carla Rees is always in interesting proposition, and it usually leads me to write something completely different to what I intended. Carla plays low flutes, she has a quarter tone alto flute, a bass flute and access to a Kingma Contrabass flute, which is well worth checking out if you've never seen and heard it. It's drainpipe sized and reverberates so that you feel it coming up through the floor and resonating in your inner ear. 

So firstly I have to command Logic to give me a quarter-tone scale, something for which it was not built and doesn't feel entirely comfortable. For each instrument I need two tracks, one of which will have it's synth settings to +50 cents. Each time I want a half flat or half sharp I need to put the note in on this instrument. For notes in the chromatic 12 semitone scale, I use the other instrument. My score at present involves reading both as if they are the same line and imagining the half sharp and half flat signs. Later, once the piece is finished, I will merge the two and add the half signs by hand. 

I'm writing some vocals for Rosie Coad to sing, in Scots Gaelic. I've never written for classical voice before, and I've always felt uncomfortable about traditional music performed with classical technique - it's something about parity of esteem in terms of technique I think. So, I've decided to use Rosie's voice as an atmospheric instrument, rather than a voice. I want her to be the wind taking off the roof (all Uisters will know what I mean) gently and surreptitiously getting into the cracks of your mind.

At present the piece is taking shape in a very blind organic way. I really have absolutely no idea where this will take me, I just know that each time I sit down for an hour, it goes somewhere else. It's an intuitive approach which I'm hoping will make sense to the final sound. I want the piece to sound like it composed itself, which is essentially, what it is doing.  

To find out more about Carla and Rosie check out these links

The piece will be performed in September as part of a wider programme of contemporary classical music for low flutes, Soprano and electronics.