timing in braneworlds

A quick thought. I feel that braneworlds is certainly my most coherent work to date – and this is regardless of whether the exact execution of the ideas (do the ideas work on the instruments? etc) turns out to be adequate to my ears. But one thing that I increasingly think will be a limitation of the piece as I’m doing the final edits is the fact that the pacing is too quick. The longest section is 130 seconds, just over two minutes. When structuring the abstract time of the work I was really worried about how long that would take and what it would mean to compose a section of that length. Strange, since I’ve composed sections of that length or considerably longer before. Naturally, when I came to compose that section, which was in a slow tempo, I realised how short that two minutes really is. With many sections lasting only 30 seconds or less, it will be interesting to see how the pacing of the work ends up. On the one hand, I think it will all go past too quickly, on the other hand, since the materials themselves are fairly reduced in this work (in terms of pitch content in particular), it might well come across as a rapid series of variations, which could be an interesting structure. There’s also, of course, groupings of sections (such as the last handful of very short sections) that will reduce the sense of an all-too-rapid sequence of ideas.

It is a shame that in my PhD I won’t have a work of 30+ minutes, the longest being 18’30’’. I think my desire for a work to create/expose a world lends itself, as with Mahler, to the long-form. It also lends itself to the idea of installations or non-concert works, which I intend to look into after the PhD is finished. If I want to explore a vast space, it would make sense to explore it in a vast time. If you want to have 23 different sections, you probably want more than 15 minutes to get through it. 30 mins would perhaps be ideal, or more. Though not necessarily – Richard Barrett would always say that time and materials have been decoupled since the 20th century.

In any case, the next work I write will be considerably longer: 45-50 minutes for solo uilleann pipes and electronics. This will allow me to test out the long-form idea. No doubt in future there’ll be the chance to write a shorter piece again, and I will have to think about whether I a) reduce the number of sections and the space explored, or b) push to the extreme the exploration of a vast space in a short period of time.

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