My LSO piece seems like a very long time ago now, bringing back memories of long, hot summer days spent writing in the shed at the bottom of the garden. Unfortunately, I’m now shivering away whilst writing my latest piece – even when wearing two fleeces and a woolly hat – but it certainly makes you focus (in between the obligatory hot chocolates to thaw out)!

However, I’m aware that the January workshop is fast approaching. This week, we had an interview with composer David Knotts to discuss thoughts and ideas relating to our pieces. David is now writing up the interview as a programme note, and as my interview was very wide ranging – from structure to bird watching – I await this with great anticipation!

Whilst I am waiting for the programme note to come through, I thought I would outline a few ideas behind my piece, just to put it into context. I seem to have rambled on through four previous posts without even giving away as much as the title!

My first thought, when faced with the challenge of writing a three minute orchestral piece, was the possible link between such a piece and the Haiku form in poetry. However after further thought, it became clear that what I was interested in was simply the ‘essence’ of the world of the Haiku. I didn’t want to base my piece around one particular Haiku or to recreate a Haiku poem in music. Instead, I focussed on taking certain structural ideas, for example the Kireji (cut) and the juxtaposition of contrasting images, and manipulating these to create a musical form.

There are two related, but sharply contrasting, musical ideas juxtaposed during the piece. I like to think of these ideas as two images, but I want to leave it up to the listener to decide what these images might be. The title will give a clue though: Sudden Squall, Sudden Shadow.

One of my concerns when thinking about structuring such a short piece was the lack of time during the three minutes to develop an idea in any detail. Drawing my structure from ideas relating to the Haiku solved this problem for me. In my piece, as with the Haiku form, it is the relationship or contrast between the two ideas which provides the driving force for the music. The use of the Kireji allowed me to leap between my two contrasting musical ideas without any transition or use of real development.

I also spent a great deal of time thinking about how to conclude. I felt that I hadn’t really earned the right to have a big or dramatic finish and also wanted to conclude with a sense of the piece being open ended. Therefore my final gesture, although conclusive in certain respects, feels as though the piece could move on to a new and perhaps contrasting section.

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