Reverse : for flute and Korg MS-20 synthesizer
by Stephen Adams (2009)
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The flute is the instrument I studied as a teenager. At the request of various flute-players, I've made numerous failed attempts over the years to write a convincing solo flute piece. This work was first written for flute and the late 1970s Korg MS-20 analogue synthesizer. When after its premiere in Brisbane, flutist Janet McKay prepared to head off on a concert tour of America, I re-wrote the piece for her to perform without me and my synthesizer, thus finally tricking myself into completing a solo flute piece.
The stark gestural language owes something to my memories of the first Australian performances of Japanese Noh Drama back in 1984 at the University of Sydney in which I participated as one of the two drummers. This approach was in part prompted by the abrupt nature of the beginnings and endings of the synthesizer tones as triggered by the flute-player in the flute and synth version. Thus a ghost of the synth remains imprinted on the flute's abrupt gestures, as well as the 'ghost-tones' of the flute-player's voice.
Instrumentation: Flute, Korg MS-20 synethsizer.
Duration: 7 min.
Dedication note: Dedicated to Janet McKay
Undo - about face - friction - opposition. Flute and synthesiser exchange roles. The ritual of counterpoint at its most basic. Stark and simple reversals of high and low, active and static. Sound objects: the strong gesture; and the long tail…
The Korg MS-20 is a classic analogue synth from the late 70s. I associate it with my decade of playing in rock bands and making solo synth recordings on cassette tapes. The flute is the instrument I studied as a teenager. I've made numerous failed attempts to write a convincing solo flute piece. Putting the flute and synthesizer together has finally made this possible - a 'solo' flute piece in which the synthesizer merely filters the flute's sound to produce a curious counterpoint of timbres and ghost tones.
Resonate article: Those Vanished Hands - Janet McKay by Sarah Collins
Resonate article: Solo Perspective concerts 1&2 by Geoffrey Gartner
Performances of this work
9 Aug 09: New Music Network Mini-series: 'Solo Perspectives 1', Recital Hall East, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Featuring Janet McKay.
22 Mar 09: The Wulf, Los Angeles, USA. Featuring Janet McKay.
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