Etude: 'Orrery': for piano

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


[programme note] Models of the movement of celestial bodies have long served as the basis for musical explorations, and vice-versa. The Pythagorean tradition of the Harmony of the Spheres, in which planetary orbits, human emotions and the practice of music are all connected through sounding number is well-known, though I make no claim for the occult efficacy of this little etude! Rather, the orrery – a clockwork model of the solar system demonstrating the changing orbits of planets around the sun – is simply a useful way of visualising the musical situation: a series of more or less imperfect ‘clockwork’ mechanisms rotating harmonies around a central point. Each pitchsatellitehas its own orbital period and the changing rhythmic patterns thus generated result in the emergence of hidden melodies; sometimes the mechanism catches and a particular pattern gets stuck in a loop.

The harmonies are all derived from a cipher of the dedicatee’s name: T(e)-A-M(i)- A(sharp)-R(e)-A(flat) – this, along with the mention of ‘hidden melodies’ perhaps suggest occultism is not as far away as I might wish to maintain. . .
Original languageEnglish
PublisherFaber Music Ltd.
Media of outputScore
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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