Image: Andrew Middleton
Pas de deux was written in response to the challenge of writing music for one note only (where ‘note’ could be defined in any terms). I also wanted to create something where physical activity was a primary concern rather than a mere by-product of sound production techniques. The piece is scored for hands on a freely vibrating string or wire. A vibrating string is a fundamental model in acoustics, which is used to explain the concept of a pitched note and its natural harmonic derivatives (incidentally all stringed instruments are manifestations of this model). Here, then, is my one ‘note’. Performers use their hands to set the string or wire in motion. By touching it in different ways the sounds produced can be manipulated to produce a broad and beautiful palette. Importantly, I’ve scored the actions of the hands rather than the intended sounds. Performers are free to use any string or wire of any length and any design; each one will be different and uniquely characterful. This open approach gives performers important creative input and a certain amount of freedom. The score itself gives instructions on how to interact with the string or wire. I describe Pas de deux as a hand-ballet. Where in a traditional ballet music is used to accompany a dance (or vice versa if you prefer), here the dancing of hands and the music that sounds are thoroughly intertwined and co-dependent.
Potential for installation and multimedia performance
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