Nature pieces

Armstrong, N. (2013). Nature pieces *

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Abstract

Nature pieces was commissioned by Plus-Minus Ensemble, and premiered at Kings Place, London. The work stems from a long-held fascination with the ways in which nature is represented and evoked in music. Specifically, the core technical concerns are addressed to idioms and topics which have historically been put to use in musical 'appeals to nature'; i.e., in constructions and evocations of the idyllic, the folkloric, the archaic, and the hieratic. Topics that are directly engaged include: pedal points (a precedent is the gradual expansion and proliferation over the Eb pedal in the Rheingold Prelude), distant bells (bell-like sonorities, and also insistent iambic rhythms), mediant modulations ('brightenings', or patterns of shifting light), contained movement (fluctuation in stasis, 'forest murmurs'), and haziness/desubstantialisation (the shimmering or 'hovering' quality in, e.g., Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, or Webern's Im sommerwind). The work is not concerned with presenting an unproblematised recapitulation of pastoral tropes, but neither is it concerned with establishing a detached or ironic distance from historical models. Rather, the core concern is more closely aligned to Lukács' notion of 'second nature', by which the 'natural' is understood as a socially determined and mediated category, standing in contrast to the nature it represents. Structuring processes are, then, directed towards an investigation into the material determinations of a familial set of established musical topics, as well as the integration of these material elements into a congruous musical form. Interactions between instrumental and electronic sounds are primarily concerned with with creating variegated fusions, tierings, layerings, and shadowings. The extended sense of harmonic, timbral, textural, and spatial depth during the sections employing electronics stands in contrast to the more reduced and fixed textural fields of the purely instrumental sections.

Item Type: Composition
Additional Information: First performance: Kings Place, London, Mar 2013.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: School of Arts > Department of Creative Practice & Enterprise - Centre for Music Studies
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/13523

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