Llangynidr Mountain: © Andrew Davies 2019
Driving across Llangynidr mountain on an early summer evening really is a breathtaking experience and one, which on a musical level, inspired the feeling and texture of the opening ideas of my piece. I recall this now as I drive across this mountain on my way to an ASO rehearsal where my initial musical thoughts for this piece will be made public.
Hearing real people play your music is a truly wonderful experience. Waiting for the first play-through is both immeasurably exciting and a little terrifying. On this occasion the fear is amplified by the fact I know the musical ideas are only half formed and not completely worked through. Being a testing ground, this project, however, affords the luxury of trying things out in a number of ways without fixing on a particular solution. Initially, this has been quite a challenge as I usually have all the major compositional decisions locked into place long before anyone else comes anywhere near looking at a score.
One of the areas within which I enjoyed this luxury was exploring how the music responded to a variety of tempi. By this I don’t just mean getting the precise metronome marking from an already narrow range of possibilities. Instead, testing ideas at radically different speeds offers possibilities not just for a single iteration of a particular idea but for the proliferation and variation of the idea throughout the eventual piece.
Another area of thought that has been challenged is the selection of the solo instruments. During the first play through of the material, it became apparent that the first entry of the flute soloist didn’t cut through the texture in an audible way. Playing the passage up the octave introduced a level of stress which was undesirable so that switching to piccolo as a solo instrument achieved a preferable result.
After the rehearsal, comments I received were all rather lovely, although many people had ideas (mostly wrong!) of what inspired the piece. One interesting comment, “were you inspired by the Symphony of Wind Instruments?” (I wasn’t, by the way!) would have annoyed my in the past. Maybe when a composer is struggling to find their own voice being likened to the sound of someone else can make one a bit tetchy. However, I do feel quite pleased that someone has put my music anywhere near Stravinsky.
Anyway, as all this has been processed it is now time to reflect and look at what Abergavenny Music needs next to develop and progress for the next rehearsal.
© Silurian Music 2019