32 miniatures for a keyboard instrument (with optional ensemble)
Gifts from the Pavement is the title given to a collection of photographs and collagraph prints created by the artist Alice Fox. The music was originally composed for a slide-show presentation on a smart phone â€˜app’ designed by Phil Legard for the Saltaire Arts Trail 2013, a development project supported by Arts Council England.
The idea of such â€˜gifts’ has its origins in a book of woodcut prints by the Japanese 18C artist Utamaro titled Gifts from the Ebb Tide. In this book the artist’s exquisite prints of seashore stones and shells are accompanied with poetry commissioned from a group of poets whom Utamaro invited to spend the day with him at the seaside. In 2010 Nigel Morgan and Alice Fox were inspired to create their own â€˜Gifts from the Ebb Tide’ in a sequence of photographs with poetry and music following a visit to Runswick Bay in North Yorkshire, possibly one of the best beachcombing locations in the UK.
In 2013 Alice Fox decided to â€˜beach comb’ the streets of a location near her home, the heritage village of Saltaire in West Yorkshire. Her collection of objects and photographs has come together in three forms: a gallery exhibition, on a smart phone â€˜app’, and in a published book. Nigel Morgan’s music, whilst commissioned for the â€˜app’, extends into both a concert piece and DVD recording. It was composed for the award-winning jazz and improvising pianist Matt Robinson. This is the musician for whom Nigel has already created two substantial collections of keyboard miniatures: Fifteen Images and Signature Moments.
Like Fifteen Images the focus of this work is novel tonalities, harmonic rhythm and rhythmic articulation. The final bar of each miniature is an abstract of one of twelve tonalities devised algorithmically for the work. This is not sounded out but may provide the source of any additional melodic material, which could be played by an additional solo instrument or be merged into the improvised material devised by the keyboard player. Unlike Fifteen Images and Signature Moments, time signatures are in evidence providing a trigger for the addition of loops, riffs and grooves for the optional bass and jazz percussion. Dynamics are ad lib and the tempo, articulation and expressive markings should be a guide, no more.
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Screens from the Saltaire Arts Trail 2013 and Gifts from the Pavement app.
- ‘No painting is possible without poetry’
- Po Kin Yi (9th C)
- Eyes in the feet
- Wherever, whenever,
- Pocketed, brought home,
- Shaped under tea’s chemistry
- Left on paper sketchbook thin
- Enough to register on both sides
- Where the roller has marked,
- Capriciously, a backdrop
- Always different, pavement grey,
- Mottled, complex as storm clouds
- on a winter sky. Then, the stitch.
- Marks of a bird’s foot
- Perfectly pricked
- On the footpath’s mud,
- We crouched close to view
- In the last light of this fading year.