For two pianists.
This composition is a by-product of a commission from Fresh Yorkshire Aires to write a work for two pianists from different positions in the musical spectrum: one, the jazz pianist Matthew Bourne, the other Philip Thomas who is aligned to contemporary experimental music. Both pianists own to what has become known as free improvisation – in some degree.
A further requirement for this commission was that the â€˜scores’ should be graphic, and take as their core images references to places in the landscape or cityscape within the county of Yorkshire.
I made an early decision that whatever the graphic images and â€˜score’ might be it would have to be â€˜mapped’, either into physical gesture or into parametric musical elements – pitches, rhythms, dynamics, and articulation. I sought images that had within them letters, words, integers, and binary sequences respectively. I found in the famous Walk of Art at Yorkshire Sculpture Park a picture of people’s names, on Ilkley Moor one of poet Simon Armitage’s Stanza Stones poems, at the York Transport Museum a collection of railway engine numbers, and in the 11-storey front elevation of the Arena Hilton Hotel in Leeds a 6-bit binary sequence of windows.
These images are presented as the basis for four graphic scores with a minimum of graphic manipulation and a small insert of instructions for the two pianists to map the images to musical parameters. To do this meant devising musical material which could be assimilated quickly and directly as the basis for some measure of improvisation, controlled randomness and open form.
Two versions of the score are provided here: the graphic score instructions, and an algorithmic realisation, which enables me to test possible outcomes in a fully notated score.