The Blue Box

8/1/04 for cor anglais, violin and bass clarinet

Composer’s note

On the afternoon of Tuesday 30 December 2003, at a spot adjacent to the southbound A77 between Hansel Village and the Dutch House Roundabout, a man wearing a red jumper was seen walking in a field to the left with a blue box on his head.

I wonder why?

(Perhaps he feels the same way I do.)


‘The Blue Box’ is the latest of a series of works built upon the same premise;

‘If one starts by considering an ensemble as a collection of performers rather than a collection of instruments, and the performance area as an undiscovered space, what musical consequences follow?’ (from program note to ‘othing’, for strings)

In this case, the limitations of the commission were strict; there was no possibility of using a ghettoblaster in the piece as I had originally wished, neither was it possible for me to meet and discuss anything with the players beforehand, or even find out who the actual individuals involved would be. The space was an unknown, and the context was a lunchtime concert which it was anticipated would be attended by virtually no-one.

It is within these dismal parameters that I came up with this sad little piece; the players stuck in a limping groove, screwing the pages of their music up and throwing them away as they struggle to escape from their musical prison. Only at the end of the piece do they appear to make some sort of breakthrough, yet to a place only barely less brown and claustrophobic than the one they had left.

‘The Blue Box’ was commissioned by Symposia and given its first performance by them on 26/2/04 as part of the Musica Nova festival; the recording of which can be heard above.

Duration ~9′