Memory Tape (2015)

for cello and trombone

Premiere: 5th February 2015

Stephen Menotti (trombone)
Ellen Fallowfield (cello)

St Pauls Hall at Huddersfield, UK.

Programme note:

The work explores a lexicon of soft textured instrumental sounds taking their cue from the iterations of whispers produced by an empty rotating reel-to-reel tape machine. I focused on composing with microscopic grains of instrumental friction sounds that articulate wavering divisions of time as an orchestration of these tape sound qualities. Small speakers are spread out across the space and are playing the recordings of multiple tapes crackling. The set up creates a dislocation between what appears to be a sound source (the tape machine) and the actual sounds coming from the speakers. The speakers played textured sounds, such as various grainy crackling noises that provide spatial colouring to the listening experience. In the work a sustained pitch is a conceptual ‘ground’ which is revealed to contain myriad microtonal fluctuations and changes in timbral and textural detail. The ways in which I explore this at a micro-level gives rise to a higher order structure in that transformations between the trombonist’s vocalisations and multiphonics, with the ‘cellist’s bowing speed and airiness of tone define a pattern of phrases.