Common time : for orchestra
by Steve Wood (1985)
Common Time is an orchestral work in 2 movements. It is programmatic in nature and is inspired by a short story of the same name by science fiction writer James Blish. The story deals with the subjective perception of time as experienced by a man travelling at near light speeds on a round trip journey to Alpha Centauri. On his arrival he encounters a race of alien beings ( the Beademungen ) with whom he falls intensely in love with but when he must eventually return the effects of his journey cause him to forget most of his experience. The first movement of the piece is entitled "Awakening" and attempts to describe the protaganist's waking from suspended animation and his subsequently distorted perceptions of the fluctuations in time as charted against the constant ticking of a clock. The second movent entitled "Beademung" concerns his encounter with the alien race, his eventual return and perhaps the 'persistence of memory'. Rather perversely neither movement is in 4/4 time.
Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, marimba, harp, strings (1st violins and basses occasionally divisi).
Duration: 16 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — layers of Independent rhythms. Somewhat dense polyphony.
Contents note: Awakening (9 min.) -- Beademung (7 min.).
- Has as subject/About: Program Music
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