for Soprano Saxophone, 2 Flutes, 2 Clarinets, French Horn, ‘Cello and Keyboard

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Enjoy a fragment from the live recording of Celebration-2 by the Alea New Music Ensemble


is a transcription of Celebration-1 for performance by the Alea New Music Ensemble. This transcribed version has been significantly revised and altered, and is for an eight member instrumental ensemble comprising of Soprano Saxophone, 2 Flutes, 2 Clarinets, French Horn, ‘Cello and Keyboard. The Soprano Saxophone player is required to sing the short vocal fragment that ends the work, although he/she can sing it at whichever octave is comfortable. This is designed to be half spoken and half sung (without many of the conventions of singing) and should be with peace and freedom. The second flautist is required to change to an Alto Flute in the latter half of the composition, and the clarinet players change to simple percussion instruments earlier in the piece. The first clarinet player plays a "shaker", which can be defined as a hand-held enclosed instrument containing beans or beads - the first of a pair of quaver beats is shaken away from the body, and the second towards it. The second clarinet player plays “drums”, which can be defined as any hand drum pair that approximates an octave displacement. The keyboard player is actually required to play two electronic keyboards which have contrasting sounds are used at different times during the piece (as notated in the score). The first keyboard is any pressure sensitive electronic instrument that creates sounds like a piano or tuned percussion. The second keyboard does not have to be pressure sensitive, but must produce long and constant tones of an almost ethereal nature.


Unusual notation is used in the score to represent notes gradually speeding up or slowing down in individual instrumental parts. The notes that are gradually changing speed are surrounded in a box, and an arrow passes from this box through the bars the speed change occurs. The notes in the box are repeated and the speed gradually increases or decreases until the end of the bar containing the arrow head. If the following bar contains notes with more rapid rhythmic divisions than those in the box, then the notes have gradually sped up and the opposite is true if the notes in the bar after the arrow use notes with less rapid rhythmic divisions, so it is important that a gradual transformation is felt. This necessitates the presence of a conductor for these passages.

This piece is a celebration of the simplicity of life, and has been inspired by the song fragment by Ivor Cutler that concludes the work. I fashioned the last chord of the melody into a simple chord progression, and then extended this chord sequence by filling it with a series of intermediary chords. The structure of this work is based on the gradual development and transformation of these chord sequences and I was interested in working with gradually transforming sound textures. This structure gives the work a feeling of a constant striving towards some conclusive finale, but the text fragment that ends the work on an unresolved dominant chord leaves a question - does all this (self-imposed) development and structure deny the fact that is often the simplest things in life that bring the most pleasure?


Below is diagram of how the players should be situated in a performance:







May 2008 Nachtschimmen Music-Theatre-Language Night Shades, Ghent (Belgium)
Send mail to zachar@nachtschimmen.eu with questions or comments about this website.

Last modified:
May 30, 2008