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The machine stops! : (thoughts on a story by E. M. Forster), for solo guitar

by Richard Charlton (1995)

Work Overview

Based on E. M. Forster's short story of the same name, The Machine Stops is described as an "Orwellian reaction to the earlier heavens of H. G. Wells." Forster writes about a world after war has laid waste to the surface, where humans live separately in little individual cells underground, connected and maintained by the Machine! Comforted by its background hum, they communicate, learn and experience life only through the Machine. This is a generation that has developed beyond personal experience and facts, beyond impressions; a generation absolutely colourless that is supposedly "free from the taint of personality." (An interesting prediction in the age of the "World Wide Web"!)

The music introduces us to this world with shock tactics and metallic clangs - the first signs of disturbance in the Machine. Then the familiar hum starts, almost imperceptibly, and gradually the ostinato builds to a climax. A slow central section describes the quiet of the world above where those punished with "homelessness" cannot possibly live! (or can they?) The hum from below returns, the Machine is omnipotent! the Machine is eternal! the "Mending" Apparatus will triumph! But disturbances continue to compound and the final section depicts what they once thought, "unthinkable" . . . . . !

Work Details

Year: 1995

Instrumentation: Guitar.

Duration: 8 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Written for: Raffaele Agostino

First performance: by Raffaele Agostino — 9 Mar 96. Performing Arts Centre, Crows Nest, Sydney


Performances of this work

9 Mar 96: Performing Arts Centre, Crows Nest, Sydney. Featuring Raffaele Agostino.

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