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Landscape of diffracted colours : for mixed ensemble and pre-recorded electronics

by Peter McNamara (2005)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Ulrich Pohl, Insomnio Ensemble from the CD Landscape of diffracted colours

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Landscape of diffracted colours


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Landscape of diffracted colours / Peter McNamara.

Library shelf no. CD 1996 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

Landscape of Diffracted Colours was written in 2005 and is scored for mixed ensemble and pre-recorded electronics. It was first performed at the 2007 Asia Pacific Festival in Wellington, New Zealand and was awarded second Prize the Asian Composers League Young Composers Award at the same event. The work's title refers to the many different colours found in the Australian landscape and how the light of these colours can be bent and diffracted. Some of this imagery includes shimmering, where light is bent by Australia's extreme heat and the rich and dark colours of sandstone, which is visible because of reflection and diffraction from elements of its composition.

The work's harmonic material is based on the harmonic series of four fundamentals. The ensemble and electronics work together to synthesise various tone colours and transform them over time. There is also interplay between the two parts where the colouristic resonance of the ensemble is morphed into a different colour by the electronic part.

Divided into three sections, Landscape of Diffracted Colours' first section is very intense and contrasts very dense, raw and almost primal sounding material with a light and very open sounding texture. Each fundamental is used separately and is subject to some kind of timbre transformation such as distortion etc. This changes towards the end of the first section as some fundamentals and textures are used simultaneously. The second section is calmer and very sostenuto with a sense of more metric freedom than the stricter first section. Lyrical material in the piano and winds appears as a contrast to the heavier first section. After a solo for the electronic part, the work returns to the material of the first section, but with further development. The textures and fundamentals progressively overlap more and more until the climax of the work, after which the work's colours gradually fade away.

Work Details

Year: 2005

Instrumentation: Piccolo/flute, oboe, clarinets (in B flat and bass in B flat), piano, percussion, violin, viola, cello, pre-recorded electronics.

Duration: 8 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Professional

Contents note: In 3 sections.

First performance: 27 Oct 05. Performed by Sydney Conservatorium modern music ensemble (workshop), at Sydney Conservatorium of Music


Resonate article: Composer Notes - June 2008 by Australian Music Centre

Resonate article: Composer/Performer Notes by Australian Music Centre

Resonate article: Insight: Freedom within the prism by Peter McNamara


Performances of this work

15 Dec 10: Performed by Students of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. Featuring Bart Bouckaert.

26 Sep 08: ISCM World Music Days, National Philharmonic Hall, Vilnius, Lithuania. Featuring Ensemble Modern.

1 Sep 08: Internationale Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2008, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, the Netherlands. Featuring Ulrich Pohl, Insomnio Ensemble.

2 Apr 08: Alte Oper, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Featuring Ensemble Modern.

15 Feb 07: Asia-Pacific Festival, 'Young Turks', St Andrews on The Terrace, Wellington, New Zealand. Featuring Stroma Ensemble.

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