Work-in-Progress Sketches – Blog Two
Work during April saw me continuing with my installation piece: a commission for the house which explores the interaction of three composers – Handel, Bach and Scarlatti – whose 330th anniversaries are all celebrated this year. You can read more about the beginnings of this project in Part I of this series (posted directly below this blog).
In the case of Scarlatti, I selected as my starting point a passage from a work I knew well (the K175 sonata – often played quite idiomatically on guitar). There were a few bars, shown here, which I’d always been fond of, featuring some typically Scarlattian scrunches and discords. As is often pointed out, many of the dissonances and modal inferences in his music seem to derive from guitar open string figuration – and I think that could be said of these bars.
Having settled upon this segment of musical material (now around 1 minute, 20 seconds long), I started the next step of the compositional process.
Importantly, I wanted this to be an an acoustic, not an electronic, piece; in this way I could interact with and sculpt material in a much more tangible and visceral way as I ‘orchestrated’, allowing me to start making compositional choices that reflect my own language, whilst still staying true to the concept and original material.
|Spectrogram of Scarlatti reversal|
My first step was to analyse the Scarlatti recording spectrally (some of these results are shown on the left). [Nb Spectrograms show visually each frequency present in material, as it passes through time – and the strength/amplitude of these pitches.]
My intention was that this would be a warts-and-all representation of the time-stretched material. Not only do layers of the Scarlatti become apparent that were previously hidden, but glitches and imperfections in the time-stretching process bring about other sonorities and distortions, adding a certain amount of grit and bite to the music: something which appealed to me.
The next step, guided by the spectrograms, was to painstakingly (see below) notate each of these strands: each frequency, its duration and its amplitude.
Working in 15 second segments, I set about ‘orchestrating’ the music (a painstaking process I’m currently still battling with!). And with specific players in mind – an ensemble of six instruments – I’m having to be as creative as possible in order to accommodate as many layers and as much detail as I can. (So awkward double stops, and spread chords galore…)
|Click here to enlarge|
|Click here to enlarge|