work: another season

Another Season
Commissioned by New Music in the South West for a series of concerts exploring the relationship between music and art, this piece was written in response to the Zhang Enli: Four Seasons exhibition held at Hauser & Wirth (Somerset) in 2015. When I first saw Zhang Enli’s striking water expanses, my attention was drawn towards those pencil-drawn constructional grids that are deliberately left to stand visible through the brush strokes and seem to both interlock and interfere with the surface of the finished work. I apprehended these grids as traces of the very process of composition of the paintings and came to base my response on that particular feature: every gesture, melodic element or rhythmic articulation that is heard in Another Season is derived from patterns provided by an ancient grid of numerical symbols (1 to 9) known as the Lo Shu magic square – symbols which, rather than being approached as algebraic quantities, were intended in early Chinese divination to be viewed as embodying a range of meanings such as directions on the compass, colours, the elements and the seasons. Each of the two instrumental voices draws its line from a different region of the Lo Shu grid: pitch sequences and durational values in the violin part are governed by the numbers occupying the lower and left-hand positions of the magic square (representing winter and spring), while the viola part is shaped by the numbers found in the upper and right-hand positions (those associated with summer and fall).

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commissioned by:
first performance:

violin and viola
7′ 30″

New Music South West
RWA, Bristol (UK)
perf. R. Huckle & B. Kane