Across the Top : suite in three movements
by Paul Cutlan (2012)
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Library shelf no. CD 2668 [Not for loan]
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The melodic ideas for this suite were conceived during a tour with MARA! for Musica Viva in 2007. Labelled "Across the Top", this seven week tour saw the group performing for schools, communities and arts centres in W.A. Northern Territory and Queensland. One of the most striking parts of the journey was through the Pilbara and Kimberley, with their mineral rich red landscapes, vast plains, imposing ancient ranges and lush gorges. The sheer scale of the area and sparseness of human population were background influences to the composition of the suite.
Gibb River Road is a 660km dirt road linking the remote towns of Derby and Kununurra in W.A. The main elements of the composition are a long chromatically winding melody in 12/8, and a driving bass line derived from the AfroCuban Bembe rhythm. An elegaic interlude splits the movement in two, and introduces a slow melody in 3/2 which becomes the main theme in the third movement - Reconcile.
An improvised interlude featuring high string harmonics leads into the central movement - Lost Souls. The main theme in 6/4 has a dark, searching quality and is the springboard for an atmospheric viola and cello improvisation. An urgent and primal middle section interrupts, propelled by the Bulgarian Paiduschko 5/16 rhythm. A soprano sax improvisation leads into the final section, which starts to recapitulate both the 6/4 melody and the Paiduschko theme, before being interrupted by the more tranquil Reconcile melody. The darker themes prevail however, the Reconcile theme being parodied, before the remaining themes peter out, ending on a 'mystery' chord which becomes the signature sonority of the final movement.
A solo double bass improvisation leads into the slow finale in 3/2 Reconcile. Elements of the Gibb River Road melody are further developed, culminating in a neo Baroque passage for the two violins. Towards the end of the movement, all three main themes of the suite are combined in a pizzicato section, before a final statement of the Reconcile theme.
Instrumentation: Bass clarinet doubling soprano saxophone, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass.
Duration: 35 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Rhythmic independence
Contents note: I. Gibb River Road -- II. Lost Souls -- III. Reconcile.
Resonate article: Insight: Improvising and composing for The NOISE by Paul Cutlan
Across the Top Suite: Gibb River Road (Part 1)
Across the Top Suite: Gibb River Road (Part 2)
Across the Top: Lost Souls (Part 1)
Across The Top: Lost Souls (Part 2)
Across the Top Suite: Reconcile
Performances of this work
6 Nov 2012: at Cutloose Meets The NOISE (Venue 505).
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