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Diptych : chamber ensemble

by Stephen Holgate (1981)

Audio Sample

Performance by New Audience Ensemble from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 144.

Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 144.


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Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 144.

Library shelf no. CD 3251 [Available for loan]



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Diptych / Stephen Holgate.

Library shelf no. 785.5217/HOL 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Diptych is a single-movement work for mixed instrumental ensemble. It has two main sections, hence the reference to 'diptych' - traditionally an artwork, often a religious altar piece, in two panels often joined by hinges. The two sections in this musical 'diptych' reflect the composer's considerations on contrasting images of the Australian desert and urban landscapes.

Significantly, Diptych is the first of Holgate's concert works from this period to seriously explore the 'micro' or interior level of sound itself - reflecting Holgate's interest in musical 'timbre' or colour and the influence of composer mentor Barry Conyngham and specifically the so-called 'spectral' or 'sound synthesis' techniques of innovative new-generation French composers Tristan Murail and Gerard Grisey, who were leaders at the 1980 Darmstadt International Summerschool of New Music in Germany, attended by Holgate. Broadly speaking, complex acoustic phenomena such as the overtone spectra, modulation, filters, formants etc (which contribute to the differences in naturally occurring sounds) are orchestrated or synthesized using acoustic instruments to create a dynamic web of evolving textures and sonic clusters, frequently fused together by the precise use of percussion and multiphonics (special complex sounds) produced on woodwind. Diptych was structured partly by the composer's interest in the mathematical Fibonacci series of numbers.

Work Details

Year: 1981

Instrumentation: Flute, clarinet, French horn, 2 percussion 1, piano, violin, cello.

Duration: 8 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: composed for the New Audience Ensemble based at the Faculty of Music, University of Melbourne.

Commission note: Diptych was written as part of Music ’81, a major Arts Victoria project.

First performance: by New Audience Ensemble — 20 Sep 81. Melba Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Melbourne

The composer notes for the following influences, subjects, genres, etc associated with this work:
Influence of spectral and sound synthesis ideas derived from the influence of French composers Gerard Grisey and Tristan Murail at the 1980 Darmstadt International Summer-school of New Music.

Performances of this work

20 Sep 81: Melba Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Melbourne. Featuring New Audience Ensemble.

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