Echo III


trumpet with stereo tape delay
First Performance
28.7.1978, Music Auditorium, University of Western Australia, Australia: Gordon Webb

Score and part 0-571-50585-6 on sale

Programme Notes

Echo III was written for Gordon Webb, who gave the first performance on 28th July 1978 whilst visiting The University of Western Australia as Artist-in-Residence.

The trumpeter stands centre-stage. Everything which he/she plays is recorded and played back twice, at intervals of 5 seconds (from the left speaker) and 10 seconds (from the right loudspeaker). When the piece was composed a stereo tape-delay system was used to achieve this result; nowadays it is more convenient to use a pair of digital delays.

In musical terms this technical set-up gives rise to a continuous 3-part canon, which may be more or less obvious according to the nature of the musical material. The canonic effect is quite clear during the opening evolution of a staccato chromatic scale: much less so during the sustained note which follows it. Here the canonic overlappings focus the ear on gradual changes of timbre, and the movement of sound between the threee sound-sources.

Formally the piece may be likened to a set of double variations, in which the two opening ideas (staccato scale and held note) are varied in alternation. With every variation each idea takes on a little more of the character of its opposite - longer notes gradually infiltrate the staccato attacks whilst the long notes become shorter and more active.

These two interlocking strands of development unite at the centre of the piece, in a brilliant fanfare-like passage which has an equal distribution of short and long notes. From this point the two strands unwind until they regain their original (but much more highly developed) character in the final two sections of the piece - a slow chorale-like passage followed by a coda of extremely rapid movement, which gradually transforms into the sound of toneless blowing through the instrument.

RS 1994

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