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A Spread of Dreams

YEAR: 2009

ORCHESTRATION: 1(pic.afl).1(ca).1(bcl).1 / 1000 / perc / hp. / str[11111]

DURATION: 19'

COMMISSIONED BY: Orchestra of the Swan

DEDICATION: Fiona Southey

PREMIERE INFORMATION:

Orchestra of the Swan conducted by David Curtis

Compton Verney
Spring Sounds Festival

This work originated in colour pencil drawings I made, in response to, and inspired by, a simple line drawing that Anish Kapoor had made for me as a gift in 2006. The elaboration of his simple shape led me to create coloured variants and to thus hear aural textures that were ephemeral, transient and dream-like in quality. As I explored the feelings around the shapes I was generating, I settled on W. B. Yeats much-loved poem The Cloths of Heaven as the emotional focus for the music and the imagery.

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

The dream-imbued patterns of rather soft and blurred sound came to be organised around a rondo-like structure with a Ritornello appearing in different guises (‘of night and light and the half-light’) separated by episodes of more soloistic material. The transparent surface is perhaps the least rhetorical of any of my works, with a conscious attempt to avoid an overall teleological thrust.

Rather, I hoped to concentrate on qualities of colour and light, sometimes suspended in a sort of harmonic stasis, that inform the returning mobiles of aural fabric. The Indian-like theme that appears around the pitch centre of F# is not based on a raga, but on a symmetrical octatonic mode. It is a foretaste of a future dream yet to be realised – to integrate some of the forms and shapes of Indian classical music into mainstream contemporary music.

The interval of the perfect 4th infiltrates and binds the harmonic fields and the modal scales used throughout the work; this interval, appearing early in the overtone series, has a ‘heavenly’ allusion in my personal cosmology of pitch material, and was associated with love in my recently completed opera Black Feather Rising. The use of blurred lines, light textural tracings and extensive glissandi were chosen to help break up the solidity of musical material and (I hope) imbue the music with qualities of ambiguity and fluidity. My work ends with a pointillist fragmentation of earlier material.

A Spread of Dreams is dedicated to my friend Fiona Southey with much gratitude.

 

Copyright © Param Vir, March 2009

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