Archiving the work of British composer Nigel Morgan (d. September 2017)
Rising Falling Hovering
For Solo Piano.
This is the first of a series of works that respond to new descriptions of the core elements of music devised by Sam Richards as reference points for his unique ensemble compositions. Richards has described rhythm as ‘rate of change, harmony as ‘what happens together’ and melody as ‘rising, falling, hovering’. In realising the musical nature of Rising, Falling, Hovering a pattern from the Tritone Progression section of Nicholas Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns has been used. Pattern 5 interpolates two notes onto the bi-section of an octave. This pattern is then organised into a series of different forms. The notation to the right shows the tonalities of Rising, Falling, Hovering along with corresponding data for the computer composition language Symbolic Composer, in which the piece was written.
Notation of tonalities used in Rising, Falling, Hovering.
With this material in place an intricate composition was devised in the computer language Lisp using the Symbolic Composer software. Every detail of the performance was imagined in the code and then rendered into a MIDIfile, very much in the spirit of the French pioneer of algorithmic composition Claude Barbaud. Sam Richard’s notions of ‘rising, falling and hovering’ are revisited in Rising, Falling for solo viola and the first movement of Four Commentaries for piano and cello, which further explores Richard’s descriptions of rhythm, harmony and musical space..
The program devised for Rising, Falling, Hovering has been reused with a different Slonimsky pattern and in a different context: in the song cycle Stone and Flower for mezzo-soprano and electric piano commissioned for the centenary celebrations of the sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth in 2003.A completelist of Nigel Morgan’s Slonimsky-based works can be browsed here.