electric guitar requires volume pedal and sustain pedal


Score on special sale from the Hire Library

Programme Notes



to drift with or as if with the tide

to rise and fall like the tide


Tiding is the first in a new collection of pieces dealing with elemental patterns. It is in many ways a line study, with each undulating phrase being both a melodic wave and a swell of sustained tones, accumulating and dissipating across the length of the phrase. 

I am very interested in exploring this threshold: where a collection of notes is at once both a line and a sonority. While working, I was reminded how ‘drawing water’ is often a process of drawing many individual lines, which in total—and from a distance—form a visual surface. While my initial sketches for Tiding were for a multilayered piece, working with electric guitar also offered the opportunity to explore closely these ideas in a single line, using a very minimal set-up. To my ears, it is occasionally as if the unadorned lyricism of some early lute music is freshly abstracted in a new medium, and to new ends.

As suggested by the title, the sound floods and ebbs. Transience – in both the production and perception of sound – has always moved me. Growing up, I spent countless evenings and early mornings lying on the beach listening to the ocean. And nearly as many hypnotic hours listening to the world sounding through water, my head half-submerged, patterns of distant chattering mingling with the periodic rubbing of the sea. This environmental mormorando, effortlessly yet unpredictably floating in and out of perception, is never too far from any work I do with sound.

Like of most of my work, Tiding uses non-tempered tunings. To achieve this, each guitar string is retuned to an overtone of an 11 hertz ground fundamental: the 6th, 10th, 14th, 21st, 22nd and 25th partials. It took me a long time to find the tunings—the right ‘colour’—for this piece. Finding this was so important because in a way it is a monochrome piece: each phrase is a subtly different shade of the same hue.

As something of an afterthought, I included an image by Christiane Baumgartner—Deep Water (2013)alongside the score material. I like her work very much, and in particular how this image evokes the perception of a liquid form through very precise means. This tension really interests me. I think—or hope—this might relate to the tunings and especially to the rhythms in Tiding, which aim to create something aqueous and fluid through their subtle detail. 

Lisa Illean


City University London (London, United Kingdom)

Sam Cave


Church of the Ascension, Ealing (London, United Kingdom)

Sam Cave

Find Out More