First performance, by Ensemble Thing
Tribulation (.mp3, 8’57, 10.5Mb)

12/1/06 for Ensemble Thing

Composer’s note

According to the infallible Wikipedia, a tribulation is ‘a relatively short period of time during which believers will experience universal persecution, and be purified and strengthened by it’. The etymology is interesting; ‘tri’ for three, and ‘bullatio’, meaning ‘pebble’; the whole word referring to an ancient practice of punishing heretics by stoning them three times.

In this work, I’m hurling my three chunks at the audience at the same time. The music played by the rhythm section is ‘Adrift & Afloat’, a graphical score originally written for gamelan, but playable by any group of people. The trio led by the piccolo have the ‘Teufelwalzer’, from my ‘Inanities’ for brass 5tet. The brasswinds have the freshest material, ‘Smelly Candles’, a frustrating game for two or more players.

O believers in contemporary music, prepare to be tribulated! But only for a relatively short time.


This piece was written for Ensemble Thing, a composer-led entity for the performance of new music originating in the RSAMD. It is also one of the first pieces completed there as part of my PhD research, and examines the consequences of taking three of my favourite musical ideas and having them playing them simultaneously.

Duration ~9′