Resonances IV : three movements for solo piano
by Michael Hannan (1997)
Library shelf no. 786.2/HAN 30 [Not for loan]
Library shelf no. 786.2/HAN 29 [Not for loan]
Resonances IV (1997) is the last of a series of four
works, each with three movements, which explore the complex
resonances of the piano by means of a constantly depressed
sustaining pedal. Like George Crumb's Makrokosmos works, the
complete cycle of twelve Resonances movements corresponds to the
twelve astrological signs. Each movement is dedicated to one or
more friends or associates (mostly composers) who
have been born under the relevant sign. Some aspect of their work or personality has been used as a source of inspiration for the composition of that movement, and occasionally there are actual musical references to the works of these people.
The Capricorn movement of Resonances IV, "Sky Song" is dedicated to Ross Edwards, a composer whose works I have studied closely. His quick Maninya style has structural, rhythmic and tonal centring characteristics which may be considered to be influential in the formulation of this movement. Given Ross's love of the sounds of nature, it is fitting that the melodic material of this movement is based entirely on birdsong. Calls of pied butcherbirds heard at Byron Bay and Clunes, and of grey butcherbirds heard only at Clunes have been selected for this composition for their compound metrical qualities.
These have then been transposed to fit with the modally static left hand ostinati.
The Aquarius movement, "Cosmic Waves," is dedicated to Jim Franklin, a composer whose involvement with the shakuhachi has stimulated my own continuing engagement with this instrument and its unique performance practices. Like "Sky Song," "Cosmic Waves" also uses birdcalls, this time a number of characteristic calls of the pied butcherbird as heard in the village of Nimbin where I live. The harmonic
accompaniments to these melodic ideas are derived from other parts of the Resonances series: from "Mercurial Orbits" and "Mysterious Clusters". The harmonic ideas heard at the opening of the movement are taken, however, from an earlier work, Bracefell's Story.
The Pisces movement, "Star Cycle", is dedicated to Fred Cole and David Matthews, both composers with whom I have collaborated on film and theatre music projects. In this movement I have chosen to symbolise the end of the astrological cycle by drawing on some of the structural characteristics of Javanese gamelan music. All the genres of gamelan music rely on the cyclic use of pitch material in the various layers of their
textures. "Star Cycle" also makes reference to other movements in the series. The opening music, for example, combines the main textural idea of "Perpetual Inversion" with the melodic material of "Conjunction". In addition it contains the alternating A flat /B flat idea of "Celestial Ground," in order to reinforce the cyclic nature of the whole Resonances series.
Contents note: I. Sky song -- II. Cosmic waves -- III. Star cycle.
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