work: supertox, feathers and seaweed

Supertox, Feathers and Seaweed
The title of the work alludes to a sight that I once chanced upon while walking along Rickham Beach, on the South Devon coast: tides and winds had brought together odd things and pieces, natural and not, into a fragile, shivering collage whose temporary fixity seemed to defy the overpowering forces at work over the large-scale drama of the surrounding landscape. This somewhat unexceptional yet poetically charged image served as a metaphor for the piece. The close tangledness of its parts, together with the idea of their eventual dispersal, impressed on all the dimensions of the work: from its instrumental medium to its dynamic and textural range, from its pitch organisation to its temporal design.
In this score I wanted to establish a sense of stasis from the very process by which rhythmic structures are formed, rather than through non-intrinsic means such as the avoidance of change or the proscription of directional motion. In effect, the time of Supertox, Feathers and Seaweed does not flow, but unfolds as a fixed expanse, an autonomous plane of composition governed by its own internal logic. The resulting network of time-points serves as a temporal screen which the harmonic narrative – consisting essentially of a sweeping motion from high to low intervallic density (using a five-note quarter-tone cluster as its point of departure) – is then projected against.

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commissioned by:
first performance:

string quartet
6′ 00″

(no public perf. to date)