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Waiting : (for the pause), for flute, cello, percussion and piano

by Christine McCombe (2019)

Work Overview

One of the things that intrigues me the most about music is how it can provide a kind of virtual experience of something outside of itself. Susanne Langer described music as 'symbolic form' because of its ability to function as a symbolic representation of something other than music. In 'Waiting' I explore the tension created in our bodies when we are surrounded by noise with little possibility of being able to hear or make sense of what we hear. From the performers' perspective, the volume level of the 'noise-scape' at the start of the piece is such that hearing each other is difficult - they are isolated by the noise - and must rely on watching each other to gain visual cues in order to maintain any sense of 'ensemble'. The intensity of the 'noise-scape' gradually decreases and moments of musical detail become audible, the fabric of the ensemble texture emerging from the density of the noise. The use of an extended 'pause' or silence at the centre of the work provides an almost visceral relief after the constant wall of sound that precedes it. It is only after the sound has cleared that we hear the ensemble as they are meant to be heard - the 'quiet voices' emerge to express the musical ideas that lay hidden beneath the noise. This sonic narrative can function as a 'symbol' for personal experiencing, through association and the structural use of tension and release. In this way the piece can create a moment for the audience to reflect on their own experiences of noise, isolation, silence, waiting and finally being heard.

Work Details

Year: 2019

Instrumentation: Flute, percussion, piano, cello and electroacoustic soundscape. Requires stereo playback through a minimum of two speakers.

Duration: 10 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Rubiks Collective.. Commissioned for the Rubiks Collective Pythia Prize 2018.

First performance: by Rubiks Collective — 5 Dec 19. Melbourne Recital Centre

Work includes improvised sections

Winner of the 2018 Pythia Prize (Rubiks Collective).

Performances of this work

5 Dec 19: Melbourne Recital Centre. Featuring Rubiks Collective.

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