Spinther II

Performance by Frank Perry & the Central Berkshire Wind Quintet
recorded at Leighton Park School, 1995

This work could be performed by any combination of instruments but was conceived for woodwind and percussion.

It arose from recordings of harmonic vocal music I made during 1994, in which I & my fellow musicians concentrated on making each breath a perfectly rounded musical sound. In Spinther II the common denominator is the duration of one breath, or the period produced by a single gesture (ie, a single stroke for percussion or the length of one bow for strings). Working with this in mind the scope of each separate section is easily appreciable. However this doesn't necessarily mean the scope of each sphere is limited to a single breath: that is something for the players and their performance context.

The word used by Indian musicians in connection with time-design is laya. It expresses a sense of graduating each element within a sense of wholeness. That is most important here.

In the context of the instruments for which Spinther II was conceived I intended it could work as follows:

The large sphere expresses the percussion. It need not be a single stroke but it should be a seamless web of sound immeasurably greater in scope than the other instruments can produce.

The heavenly bodies within it represent the relationship of the planets in January 1995. They can be interpreted by the performer according to hir understanding of their significance.

On the lower left is Aries, at the centre Taurus, to the right Gemini. The red planet above them is Mars, who is surrounded by Leo. Above them on the right comes Ursa & the Plough, and on the upper left Perseus.

Reading L-R, the first of the smaller spheres could be interpreted as multiphonics. These might be taken singly or collectively. But each sound should be executed within a self-conscious circumference of duration and dynamics just as each sphere should endeavour to relate in overall dimensions as closely as possible to the others.

The second sphere could be of ascending notes, whose character should respond to the given textures: once again graduated in length, bandwidth, duration and volume to achieve a perfect sphere. It should be noted that this sphere and the fourth sphere are 10% larger than the first and fifth.

The central sphere is 10% larger still. Here I imagined sustained notes varying slightly in pitch, microtonally merging and demerging as indicated by the lines. Whereas in the first and fourth sphere the instrumental sound should be fairly dense, here it should be translucent, allowing the percussion to penetrate.

In the fourth sphere my concept was of all the players starting from a common point and spreading in a broadening sound, eventually encountering some element of self-reflexive contrast. How this would be interpreted would be for the players.

The final sphere is a contrast between fire and ice sounds. There is a palindromic link to the first sphere, but here the sounds dovetail and intermesh. It should be noted that whereas the fire sounds are symmetrical, the ice sounds aren't.

But of course, provided a coherent method is employed the spheres could be read in other ways: R-L: simultaneously upwards or downwards. Indeed variants could be performed consecutively.

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