Collateral Damage


  • Sam Hayden
chamber ensemble of 14 players
Mixed Chamber Ensemble
picc.bcl.cbsn - tpt.trbn.tuba - perc(2): xyl/2 vib/crots/3 tom-t/SD/3 BD/mar - pno - 2 vln.vla.vlc.db

Commissioned by Faber Music Ltd for its Millennium Series. Sam Hayden was nominated by Jonathan Harvey.

First Performance
17.5.00, Poole Arts Centre, Poole: Kokoro/Mark Forkgen

Score 0-571-52035-9 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes
Collateral Damage (1999) for ensemble (14 instruments) can be seen in the context of my recent work exploring stratified layers of musical material. The different instrumental timbres available within a fairly large ensemble move at different rhythmic and harmonic speeds, the dense collisions of sound having characteristic drama, intensity and energy. Polyrhythmic pulses in the brass, woodwinds, tuned percussion and piano parts are combined with a new linear element in the string writing, not so present in my recent work. But the harsh cuts between musical blocks and obsessive cyclical rhythmic permutations remain a feature of my compositions. The title refers to a cynical phrase I first heard used by American generals in the Gulf War, gaining common media parlance throughout the various Balkan conflicts of the 1990's. It is a euphemism designed to sanitise the media reports of the random civilian casualties of Western bombing campaigns. This title is a personal reference to the historical period when the piece was composed (during the Kosovo war). I remember the anger and confusion I felt when, for the first time, I knew personally people who lived in cities being bombed. The contrast of that reality with its media representation was stark. This is however an abstract composition with no programmatic elements. But the rationalisation of random acts of violence could be a reading of the non-narrative form of this piece. 'Collateral' has a dictionary definition of 'side by side, descended from a common ancestor but in a different line'. This is applicable to my piece since all its linear and harmonic material is descended from the opening music, but developing in often confusing, contradictory and conflicting processes. 'Damage', or 'injury, harm' is what is done to this material through various arcane compositional procedures, involving random number permutations, as the piece progresses. I didn't want to write another empty celebrational piece in these uncertain times, but something I see as part of this historical moment (the end of the twentieth century. Aesthetically speaking, this piece could be subtitled 'Not the Millennium Dome'. Sam Hayden, 2000

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