Light Music - I: Strobe, II: A Single Match


wind quintet
Woodwind Ensemble
Commissioned by Fr. Arthur E. Bridge for Ars Musica Australis
First Performance
31.10.07: City Recital Hall, Sydney, Australia: Sydney Omega Ensemble

Score and parts on special sale from the Hire Library (

Programme Notes
i. Strobe ii. A Single Match The term “light music” refers to a specific genre of music designed for ‘easy listening’ , particularly written by English composers between the 1930s and 1960s. In many ways it was the precursor to what we today would appreciate as muzak. My own compositions have sometimes been derided as “light”, but a response to such criticism was not the only basis to this piece. Rather, the main idea in Light Music is the nature of light, and our response to two visual scenarios or objects. The first movement explores the pounding, incessant binary nature of strobe lights. The music is similarly bright, harsh, irrepressible and possibly even migraine-inducing. It may evoke sensations as found in a contemporary dance club. The second movement is based upon the capacities of the human eye. Apparently its scope is that we could, under ideal conditions, see a single match burning from 70kms away (as unlikely as that seems). So the second movement of Light Music is inspired by the thought of humans viewing the earth in darkness from a near-space orbit, and seeing shimmering lights way down below – maybe even the burning of a single match. From a compositional perspective each of the movements is based upon a musical principle. In “Strobe”, only one note-name is sounded at any one time. The whole movement is based upon unisons and octaves, with extra harmony being created by held notes forming chords. “A Single Match” utilizes many chords built up by intervals of seconds (rather like the Polish composer Gorecki), upon which more lyrical utterances are placed by each of the instruments in the ensemble. notes by Matthew Hindson.

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