Star-way is the latest work from Tansy Davies, composed for the London- and Sydney-based composer and pianist Zubin Kanga. The 10-minute work for solo synthesizer is written for the Prophet Rev2, an update to the original Prophet 08 analogue poly synth familiar from numerous pop and electro hits, whose notable exponents include Thom Yorke and Sufjan Stevens.

Star-way was commissioned by Zubin Kanga with the support of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship and Royal Holloway, University of London. Star-way is built on seven chords, and the Prophet Rev2’s presets. Rising, arpeggiated figures emerge from a rich, fruity bassline, making use of the complex interrelationship of timbre and dynamic that is integral to the instrument. These figures ascend and fall, creating what Davies calls a “path through the stars”; metallic, rhythmic textures emerge in the very highest register, as well as the sound of air, a kind of “cosmic interference”.

Star-way is dedicated to composer Mira Calix, who passed away in March 2022. Davies’ used her name as the basis of musical material for the work’s coda, which has “a more bombastic and club feel”, Davies says, hinting at the influences of Conlon Nancarrow and Daft Punk. Davies has previously made use of the synthesizer in neon for seven players (2004) and her 2007 piece for ensemble Falling Angel, inspired by the work of artist Anselm Kiefer. Star-way will be released through the Nonclassical label in early 2023.

On 5 November the Orkest De Ereprijs and Konstantyn Napolov premiere Davies’ Stone Codes for percussion and ensemble at the November Music Festival.