17/8/98 for strings

Composer’s note

Ha!, according to Chamber’s dictionary can mean ‘surprise, joy, exultation, dismay, enquiry, scepticism, encouragement, hesitation, and when repeated, laughter’. In this case, you might imagine that the players had finally managed to put together some kind of tricky puzzle!

The piece was consciously inspired by Japanese taiko drumming (in particular a gig I went to by the Glasgow-based group Mucho Basho) and the book Shaping Time by David Epstein. Unconsciously, it probably draws something from my work with the gamelan, and perhaps also a piece called Paradigm by Lukas Foss.

I don’t intend to wave the flag for any particular musical ‘ism’, although the influence of jazz, minimalism and world music are obvious. The harmonic approach in Ha! my own; I would not describe it as tonal, nor modal, nor is at atonal. I do use diatonic pitch material, but without any concious concern for tonal centres; harmonic movement is of only local importance.


First performance by the Goldberg Ensemble Saturday February 15 2002 in Manchester (recording above), with a second performance in Wolverhampton on Thursday February 28.

Duration 12’30