Speed

(1997)

by Matthew Hindson

Description
orchestra
Duration
16
Genres
Full Orchestra
Instrumentation
2(II=picc).1.ca.2(II=bcl).1.cbsn - 4231 - timp - perc(1) drum kit/cyms - harp - strings
Commission
Commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra with assistance from the Australia Council
First Performance
26.7.97, Conservatorium Recital Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia: Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra/David Porcelijn
Availability

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Matthew Hindson SPEED record-breakingly fast velocity, rapidly executed activity, juggernaut-like motion, driving in a hurry, a fast-talker, the pace of modern life, amphetamine-based drugs… SPEED:Before you hear the first note, when you read the title of this work, various connotations such as those above may come to mind. Hindson's SPEED allows for any or all of these interpretations. Like other works of his that I've heard, SPEED sounds like it comes from the mind of a present-day equivalent of the Romantic-era, introverted artist/visionary in the garret, or even the eccentrically brilliant Frankensteinian scientist inventing god-knows-what-new-horror in the lab. But the creator from the last century was locked away in self-imposed exile from the machinations of "real" life, which were too superficial and soulless for such a sensitive nature. Hindson conversely - perversely even - celebrates both the idea of the deepest, philosophical contemplation (SPEED is a meditation on speed), as well as the full gamut of postmodern life with all its ever-accelerating, all-senses-impacting, jolting sensation of rush. It is part of his perversity that Hindson uses the primary nineteenth-century instrumental force - the symphony orchestra - to create this metaphor for life in the late twentieth century, characterised surely by the increasing prevalence of information technology and digitally synthesised sound. With SPEED, Hindson demolishes modernist pronouncements of the death-of-the-orchestra as a viable, present-day ensemble. He offers a further reading of his piece:he relates that 'it was strongly influenced by techno music, and wears those influences on its sleeve.' Techno music and its derivatives - the music of dance and rave parties - contain the following characteristics, which appear in SPEED:repetition, a mainly steady beat, many parallel triads flavouring the harmony, and of course a fast to very fast tempo. Techno music has a singular energy, which speaks for a certain facet of "underground" society or "street" culture. This is an aspect of great importance to Hindson, who is concerned to acknowledge the wide range of contemporary Australian society's musical interests. The energy peculiar to more 'hard-core' forms of techno has found its way into Hindson's writing, focussing in particular on its freneticism, which is translated into the intensely gestural, rapid instrumental writing for the instruments, and which the listener can hear in other works by Hindson such as Chrissietina's Magic Fantasy, AK-47, and Mace (recently released on CD with works by Stuart Greenbaum and John Peterson). Perhaps the most over-riding characteristic common to the "popular" musical forms and Hindson's SPEED is the level of stamina needed by the musicians to sustain the energy and momentum throughout the work: the composer even suggests it could well have been entitled STAMINA rather than SPEED. Linked with techno music through the rave party scene are the murky speed/ecstasy types of drugs. While this association is of secondary importance to the inspiration and intended effect of the piece, Hindson captures a sense of the psycho-physical consequences induced by these drugs: invincibility/ indestructibility, ecstasy, hyperactivity, paranoia, and again, stamina. And yet, despite all the hyper-ness qualities of the work, not much stamina is required to experience the piece. Hindson manages - perversely again - to make SPEED an engaging aural treat; it is not hard-going: there is an introverted middle section, and the sonic-blasting outer sections are not in any way repellent. One is left with the impression at the conclusion of the work that it's all over in a big, first-time-on-the-big-dipper, flash. © Linda Kouvaras, 1995

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News & Reviews

'Speed' reviews

‘SPEED is a raging 18 minutes of explosive techno for orchestra. Powered by a synthetic drum kit, the orchestra pulses along at 130 - plus beats per minute, with subtle shifts mimicking a DJ’s spin doctoring. The work begins in a quintessential techno style, with triads and minor seconds. It closes with another classic trope of the genre, brashly heroic fourths and fifths … The live strings brought a dramatic edge and presence to the sound – who needs a digital sampler when you have a symphon Read more

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