'…it was good to hear a composer of Greenwood’s fame finding new things to say on one of the oldest of musical instruments.' The Times


In preparation

Programme Notes

X Years of Reverb was written to agitate and reanimate all the music, voices and sounds that have ever filled the air/soaked into the walls of the space where the music is played. To coax them out of the fabric of the building, so they can be distilled and concentrated into just eight hours.
Often, in an old church, air is passing through the same organ pipes (and into the same room) that have remained unchanged for centuries.  Hearing church organs, then, is a kind of time travel - the closest we have to faithfully reproducing the experience of hearing pitched sounds in exactly the same way as our ancestors.  
In approaching this piece, I was influenced by the classical Indian Carnatic approach to improvised melodies, where new notes are introduced very gradually into a players’ solo: the appearance of each note is so long-awaited, that its arrival is a revelation of a new world opening up. Knowing this introduces huge tension into the experience of listening to Indian music.
Melodies in Indian music are often thought of as circular, rather than linear – you’re climbing on to a moving wheel, not starting and ending in silence - this is why there’s a sense that  X Years of Reverb begins and ends outside the audible spectrum. So, the music passes across the Church in the same way that that the tones of the music pass across the audible spectrum. It’s analogous to how a rainbow is only the narrow range of the visible spectrum amongst all possible frequencies of light.
Further influence for the music came from the modern practice of tone sweeps, as used when PA systems are tested in different music venues. In these tests, every frequency is sent into the room from the speakers, and analysed to see how the room responds. Having witnessed this process many times, in a variety of venues, it seems to me that the space is different after the full range of tones have been sent: the room is re-energised, with every corner being visited by each frequency of sound, and the room’s history of music and celebration has been set loose.
© Jonny Greenwood

X Years of Reverb

268 Years of Reverb

Octagon Chapel (Norwich, United Kingdom)

James McVinnie/Eliza McCarthy

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