…certain players are finding reserves of energy…

14/10/97 for invention ensemble

Composer’s note

A couple of years ago I was in a tour bus on the way back from London, listening absently to a football match commentary coming from the television in the rear lounge. It sounded strange & stilted; the commentator paused in odd places, & seemed to have a rather small repertoire of phrases, some of which he repeated verbatim. Suddenly I twigged; it wasn’t a real match, it was two people playing a video football game. I never play computer games on principle; evidently the technology had moved on to the point of having pre-recorded phrases spoken by a professional football commentator, roughly linked to the action in the game.

The effect was interesting, and I sat and transcribed a couple of minutes of the mechanical phrases, together with an indication of the length of the pauses between them, with the vague idea of making a piece.

Then it occurred to me to wonder how the computer knew whether the players were male or female. ‘Stupid’, I thought a moment later, ‘of course it’s assumed that the players are male’. Following this train of thought, I tried changing ‘he’ to ‘she’, which gave the text a whole new meaning. From here on the piece wrote itself.


… and off she goes, she can’t score from here
… and she’s not afraid to take play… and she doesn’t have room for a shot
… that never looked on target
… I think she’ll kick this as far as she can upfield
… and the referee reaches for her yellow card ooh, the challenge
looks even worse in sl-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n
… she’ll be wanting to target the ball further up field
… oh, there’s a nice touch
… how can you explain that?
… and she’s looking for someone in the box
and she’s looking for someone upfield
… now crazy challenge here
… ooh, the challenge looks even worse in sl-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n
… into the closing period of this match
… she knows that a second yellow card means a sending off
you can see the frustration in her face yes
the referee was quite right to send her off
… she must score from here
… and off she goes


First performed by invention ensemble on 17/3/98, with several subsequent performances.

For voices, 2 keyboards & electric bass

Duration ~4′