Spine

(2005)

by Tansy Davies

Description
11 players
Duration
9
Genres
Mixed Chamber Ensemble
Instrumentation
2 afl.2 bfl.4 bcl (I=cl) - cimbalom - bass mar - harp
Commission

Commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival

First Performance
18.6.07, Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, UK: London Sinfonietta/Nicholas Kok
Availability

score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
The starting point for ‘spine’ was an interest in trilobites; ancient creatures of the Paleozoic era. I formed the large scale structure of the piece from the way in which trilobites grow, which is by releasing segments from the front of the tale and continuing to moult and grow until six segments have been formed. Trilobites were also amoung the first fauna to develop eyes, which were composed of prisms of clear calcite that formed a lense. ‘spine’ begins in darkness as the first cells of musical material begin to develop as very soft sounds. Then follows a ‘hardening’ of the sound world when the first of many dances for harp cimbalom disturbs the opening. The soft dark sonorities of low flutes and clarinets return but in a more developed form and the dialogue between bright and dark or hard and soft continues throughout the work echoing the growing, moulting and hardening of a trilobite’s exoskeleton. The title refers to a series of notes made up of short segments that form the backbone of the piece. Trilobites didn’t have backbones, they were invertebrates or arthropods but some species had many spikes or spines, examples of which have been found perfectly preserved inside limestones.

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