Five Inanities


teufelwalzer-sch.mp3 A version of Teufelwalzer for four bassoons, from Schaduwee (1’55, 2.2 MB)

scam_inanities.mp3 An extract from The Society for Classical and Authentic Music; simultaneous versions of Jagdmazurka, Teufelwalzer and Stupid Tune, with overlaps between the bassoon and oboe versions, before being requested by the conductor to efface themselves (4’00, 4.6 MB)

9/12/2004 for brass 5tet or similar

Composer’s note

The Inanities mostly all work in the same way. We hear a merry, corny tune, which is repeated many times more perhaps than we want to hear it, but it sounds perfectly fine. Suddenly the music does a freeze frame on a particularly dodgy cadence – wait a minute! The harmony was wrong all along?!

I find myself having an ambivalent response to common notions of ‘tonality’ and ‘harmony’. I suspect that these constructs do not embody some eternal truth about ‘consonance’ and ‘dissonance’ and the harmonic series and all that, but rather a set of social conventions that perpetuate a privileged construction of ‘music’.

The work has a past and a future. The composer has a past and a future. I have abandoned the idea that each work must be a completely fresh invention, and feel free to make connections between one performance and the next.


This collection of pieces has never been, and may never be performed by a brass quintet, although that is the ur-instrumentation. However, one or another of these pieces has appeared in several other works;

Duration 4 days 33 minutes