Red earth : sextet for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion
by Colin Bright (1985)
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Red Earth explores psyche of place. That is, where we
live and how it affects the way that we think. Even if you live
on the more densely populated east coast of Australia, you are
nevertheless still aware of the vast distances involved in
travelling towards the centre, the north and west. Red
Earth draws on several aspects of Australian aboriginal
music and some of the distinctive features of the Australian
landscape. This is approached not in an imitative way, but is an
attempt to attain something of the 'essence' of the music and its
relationship to the land - that is - its manifestation of a sense
In Red Earth:-
There are allusions to the rhythm of didjeridoo playing and the voice of the songman. For example, the rhythmic interplay between high and low notes refers to a technique of didjeridoo playing where the primary harmonic is juxtaposed with the (lower) normal playing note.
Most of the phrases tend to be repetitive and end on descending melodic patterns. There are rhythmic drones and chant-like phrases.
There is an overall sense of stasis and spaciousness, a flatness and repetitiveness which is characteristic of so much of the outback landscape.
Although I have been interested in Australian aboriginal music
for many years now, the origins of this were a social and
political awareness that Aborigines had little say in controlling
their own destinies (too many decisions being made by whites),
and that black culture and attitudes had not impinged greatly on
white thinking - even after 200 years. The ignominy of this being
that such a two-way flow between cultures could only have
enriched both cultures and created a closer
understanding of each other.
As a musician it seemed to me that there were aspects of Aboriginal music that intrinsically reflected something of the larger environment, and, as a consequence, Australian aboriginal music has come to have a profound effect on my musical thinking.
Instrumentation: Flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion.
Duration: 9 min.
Dedication note: Dedicated to Tony Smith
Article: Aboriginal Influences in a Hymn for the Republic
by Judy Robinson — © John Fairfax Holdings
Source: Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 12 May 1993, pp.23
- Inspired by: Indigenous Australian Culture
Performances of this work
5 May 2013: at Valley Dreaming (Gymnasium of the Scots College Glengarry Campus).
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