smir

Recording

smirbanff.mp3

(6.3MB; duration 4’33)

  • Floor Wittinksoprano saxophone
  • Emma Ferrandcello
  • Ziya Tabassianmarimba
  • William Poskitt piano

7/3/02 for soprano sax, double bass, marimba and piano

Composer’s note

Given the current apparent priorities of the Scottish Arts Council with regard to music, this seems a good time to do a ‘Scottish’ piece. ‘Smir’ is a Scots word for a particularly boring kind of drizzly rain; just as in popular culture ‘Eskimos’ supposedly have a multitude of words for ‘snow’, it might seem not inappropriate to imagine the Scots having many words to address the mythical pluviality of their country.

The angular shapes essayed by the soprano sax and contrabass are the result of taking a selection of traditional melodies transposed into all possible keys, randomising them, extracting the resultant pitch material, and using it to compose afresh without preconceptions. The slightly queasy descending chromatic chord sequence which recurs throughout the piece might be imagined to represent the sound of punctured bagpipes slowly deflating.

Notes

Written for and first performed 8/4/02 by members of Paragon, Tron Theatre, Glasgow; Brian Molley (Sax), Ninian Perry (Bass), Heather Corbett (Marimba) and Linda Cochrane (Piano). With thanks to John Harris.

Performed at the Banff Centre 7/2/03 in a version with cello instead of double bass – recording above.

Duration 4’33