Replica : overture for orchestra
by Natalie Williams (2013)
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Performance by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Benjamin Northey from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 40.
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Replica was commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for their 2013 concert season, through the generous support of Joy Shelby Smith.
Following on from my two previous works for double woodwind orchestra (Chambers of the South, 2001) and (Mirror Lakes, 2006), this piece continues an exploration of sound in the natural world. Replica explores the process by which echoes and replicated sounds (reverberation, refracted sounds) can be depicted acoustically using a full orchestra. The intention is to replicate echo techniques in the piece that would not normally be available within a standard concert hall. Replica aims to capture the nature of reflected sound and in doing so, is itself an (autological) copy of the phenomenon it aims to depict. Replica is (itself) a copy of a natural phenomenon, brought into the concert hall context.
A Replica is an exact reproduction of an object or image; a copy of an original, representing or resembling another item. Always modelled on an original source, the replica is the non-original creation of a particular event or object. In sound and music this phenomenon translates to "echo" - a reflection of sound, arriving at the listener some time after the direct sound. Echoes consist purely of sound reflections of the original sonic event, copied in waves at a constant repeated interval, with diminishing volume.
In this orchestral work I have aimed to explore the acoustic properties of the echo phenomenon. I have long been fascinated by the multiplicity of sonic colors and textures that are possible within symphonic writing and Replica explores the many properties of echo within the orchestral ensemble. A short rhythmic motive of a crotchet and quaver (announced by the clarinets in the opening measure), is itself a rhythmic echo which is developed throughout the piece. As the repetitions of this rhythmic fragment increase, the colors and textures of the echoed iterations also multiply.
The work explores echo techniques using the canvas of the orchestra, both spatially and sonically, to depict the intricacies of repetition effects in sound. Musical techniques used to depict echo include: motivic repetition, the model-and-copy design of the opening rhythmic motive, pitch and rhythmic canons, contrapuntal voice-leading and orchestration, imitation of thematic material throughout the orchestra, spectral delay; using desks of the orchestra (particularly strings) in quick succession, with divisi techniques to imitate echoes and textural gradation of orchestral colors; layering of multiple sounds and instruments upon one motive, to build up and decay.
Instrumentation: 2 flutes (1st doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B flat, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in F, 2 trumpets in B flat, trombone, tuba, percussion (2 players), strings (10.8.6.4.3).
Duration: 11 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.. Commissioned through the generous support of Joy Selby Smith
Resonate article: Insight: Replica and Our Don by Natalie Williams
- In the form/style of: Overtures
Performances of this work
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