Conversation with Magic Stones

[Introduction]
[Ascending Form]

[Contrapuntal Forms]

[Quiet Form]

[Conversation with Magic Stones]

[Back to Rhythm of the Stones]

This work was commissioned by Yorkshire Sculpture Park for the exhibitions celebrating the centenary of Dame Barbara Hepworth in 2003. As a solo work it forms part of a 25 minute concert work titled Music for Sculptures for four musicians. It was first performed in this version by David Langstroth of the BBC
National Orchestra of Wales at YSP on June 14 2003.It was conceived to be played by any contrabass instrument with or without a small ensemble. The compass and tessitura of the solo part makes this possible.

The work is presented initially for double bass, but versions for electric bass guitar, tuba, and contra bassoon are available.

The version presented here is scored for:
Solo Contrabass Instrument
Flute
Oboe
Clarinet in Bb
Trumpet in Bb
Bass Trombone

[Introduction]
[Ascending Form]

[Contrapuntal Forms]

[Quiet Form]

[Conversation with Magic Stones]

[Back to Rhythm of the Stones]

There are five short movements played almost without a pause. Like a number of Nigel Morgan’s compositions this music is based on material taken from Nicholas Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Here, patterns 1-5 are used. These are made by dividing the octave into two tritones, and then interpolating one note successively between each tritone. Explore further how these patterns work here.
With this source material it hasn’t been difficult to suggest something of tonal ambiguity that began to appear in the jazz of the 1970s, music that we know interested and intrigued the sculptor.

[Introduction]
[Ascending Form]

[Contrapuntal Forms]

[Quiet Form]

[Conversation with Magic Stones]

[Back to Rhythm of the Stones]

Conversation with Magic Stones

A few black and green yews

are where these forms choose,

for privacy or camouflage,

to stage their large self-absorption.

Among them

no bend.

No stoop.

I turn.

The bland

smile of

innuendo

glances

off my back.

Verdigris

mouths

grimace.

But oblique is the glance of the magic stones.

No horizontals but a line of obedient water

where yew needles ride, idle in the shallow

bronze crater in a warm bronze plain.

One stone bends an avian eye

but the other, with lowered gaze,

exposes its receptivity,

its vulnerable fontanelle.

[Introduction]
[Ascending Form]

[Contrapuntal Forms]

[Quiet Form]

[Conversation with Magic Stones]

[Back to Rhythm of the Stones]

A figure

confronts

a stone.

Severe

Vedigris

mouth.

Smooth

face, hard.

The stone deflects all words,

with every plane, line and angle

points to escape routes.

I stand where the stones

overlap in my sight

Each seems a child

with an incalculable centre.

There is no end to the secrets

they slip each other.

– Margaret Morgan 2003

[Introduction]
[Ascending Form]

[Contrapuntal Forms]

[Quiet Form]

[Conversation with Magic Stones]

[Back to Rhythm of the Stones]

Conversation with Magic Stones is one of a number of works by Nigel Morgan that use source material from Nicholas Slonimksy’s Thesaurus of Scales and Musical Patterns (1947), a collection of several thousand examples much used by jazz musicians and composers. John Coltrane is said to have learnt them all! John Adams recently celebrated their use in his orchestral work Slonimsky’s Earbox. Conversation employs patterns 1 to 5: the tritone progression (an equal division of the octave into two parts) with an interpolation of one note. Other pieces using Slonimsky patterns include the Schizophonia for three remote ensembles, Dreaming Aloud for solo guitar, Rising Falling for solo violin, Interactions for piano (left hand) and interactive computer system, and Slonimsky Studies: Set 1 for piano.Nigel Morgan’s Slonimsky-based compositions are discussed in more detail here.All markings of phrasing, dynamics, tempo and articulations should be considered as initial guides, no more. The full score is written in C.

Downloads

Study score for double bass and ensemble [pdf] Parts [zip]

Solo double bass score [pdf]

Recording (David Langstroth, Double Bass)
I [mp3]
II [mp3]
III [mp3]
IV [mp3]
V [mp3]