Homage to Metallica : for orchestra
by Matthew Hindson (1993)
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Heavy metal music often centres around the 'evil' interval of the tritone and the semitone. These intervals are found in the Locrian mode which some centuries earlier was consider an illegal interval. The 'illegal' takes on a more confronting reality in the heavy metal world of dark satanic fantasy. But Hindson is not trying to encourage devil worship; rather, he is attracted to "the extreme sense of theatricality, virtuosity and rhythmic energy that is so representative of this style".
Instrumentally, the use of a 1/8th sized solo violin may at first appear to belong to the school string class (and indeed this is where Hindson, a string co-ordinator at MLC School, conceived the idea) but once amplified and played in 'thrash' style it becomes an entirely different musical weapon. The small fingerboard allows for rapid leaps, while wide glissandi and the scratchy tone (this is no Strad!) helps to conjure the timbre of a distortion guitar.
Distinctive melodic lines in parallel semitones are featured in the solo violin and also in the trombones (chosen partly for their glissandi capability) which take on the timbre of a car horn or, as in the opening of the piece, and air-raid siren. One is alternatively flung between 'road rage' and 'War of the Universe'.
Homage to Metallica, however, does not exist in a completely dark world. There are passages of ecstatic tonal harmony towards which the music is often moving. These brilliant major-chord hues are just as crucial to the piece as the dark menace of the Locrian-based harmony, and one only needs to look at Hindson's catalogue of works to find similar ideas in pieces such as In Search of Ecstasy, Rave-Elation and Chrissietina's Magic Fantasy.
Written for large orchestra with triple winds, the piece opens with massive orchestral blows measured out by glissandi trombones and the explosive clanging anvil which tolls like a prelude to Armageddon. The orchestra builds up to an ecstatic melÃ©e of virtuosity before subsiding to solitary harp arpeggios in E minor. Soulful melodies in the cor anglais and solo viola start a process of textural crescendo which leads to a passage for the solo violin. This sets up the thrash ('rhythmic energy') in repeated notes which remain for the majority of the piece, reinforced by pounding bass drum crotchets and (later) racing rototom patterns. The melodic material here is modally clear in a style of high drama.
A second passage for the solo violin, this time a cadenza, suspends rhythmic motion in favour of a more solitary exploration of the instrument - heavy metal Paganini! The coda is marked 'apocalyptic' and brass triads alternate in E and B flat major (a tritone apart) creating an aura of Wagnerian splendour underscored by the thrash motive in one last surge towards ecstasy in E major.
Notes by Stuart Greenbaum, 1997
Instrumentation: 3 piccolos (2nd & 3rd doubling flute), 2 oboes, cor anglais, E flat clarinet, clarinet in B flat, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 5 horns, 3 trumpets in C (3rd doubling trumpet in B flat), 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (2 players), harp, strings, amplified 1/8 size solo violin.
Duration: 15 min.
Difficulty: Medium — Professional or professional-standard.
Commission note: Composed for the 1993 National Orchestral Composers' School.
First performance: by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra — Sep 93. Adelaide Town Hall.
Program note: Matthew Hindson's "Homage to metallica"
by Matthew Hindson
Source: the score of this work
Article: Dawn of a new world symphony
by Gordon Kerry — © News Limited
Source: Source: The Australian, 24 March 2009, pp.13
- Influenced by: Popular music
Performances of this work
Sep 93: Adelaide Town Hall.. Featuring Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
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