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Bell and anti-bell : from Parables, lullabies and secrets / music by Brett Dean ; text by Michael Leunig ; sound design by Paul Healy.
Library shelf no. Q 782.754/DEA 1 [Available for loan]
Bell and Anti-Bell was commissioned as part of the
Australian Chamber Orchestra's collaborative project "Parables,
Lullabies and Secrets" for a national tour in July 2001.
"Parables" involves contributions from 4 composers, a
singer-songwriter and a sound designer with texts by the iconic
Australian cartoonist-philosopher Michael Leunig. My composition
Bell and Anti-Bell is the longest section from this
ambitious joint venture and deals with the modern dilemma of
increased automation and lack of personal contact in the guise of
a pre-recorded, corporate telephone-answering service. For
Leunig, the concept of being asked to "please hold, until an
operator can assist you" takes on humorous, yet dark and
philosophical dimensions (as Leunig himself describes it, a
descent into madness and emotional mess). This is further
emphasised by its juxtapositioning alongside an ironically placed
hymn to truth and beauty entitled "Sweet Secret Peace" sung by
the children's choir. This initially seems to be guiding us into
more spiritual and ennobling waters ("real and right and true,
how beautiful are you…") but eventually reveals itself to be
nothing more than one of the machine's more elaborate holding
patterns. Eventually the voice itself loses it's hold, and begins
to question itself and everything around it.
© Brett Dean
Instrumentation: Children's choir, a chamber orchestra of strings, 2 harps and percussion, sampler and pre-recorded tape (on CD). Further instructions for an enhanced sound design element are optional.
Duration: 14 min.
Commission note: Commissioned as part of the Australian Chamber Orchestra's collaborative project "Parables, Lullabies and Secrets" for a national tour in July 2001
Performances of this work
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