The string orchestra piece The Green Fuse (2021) was originally written as an entry into a composition competition held this year by a Scandinavian string orchestra. Part of the prize included performances on an international multi-venue tour around Northern Europe and Britain. The brief was that the 8-10 minute instrumental work should be 'about' (!?) the city and nature. (This often happens in competitions - the piece has to 'about' some extra-musical subject. Why can't it just be 'about' itself? A collection of sounds organised in such a way as to please, move, inspire, whatever... the listener.)
When writing a large piece I often write all the ideas for source material (tunes, chords, rhythms, etc...) on a large single page of manuscript paper and then squeeze all the music in the piece out of these fragments by developing and combining them in various ways without introducing anything new. This piece was an exception as, in a nod to the Scandinavian orchestra, I also transcribed a piece of traditional Swedish folk music that I came across on YouTube (traditional Swedish folk music). This animal herding music (or Kulning) arranged for strings was added to my original ideas as the starting points for the piece.
Other main ideas were a slow chorale, a faster folky tune, a minimalist-inspired chord sequence and a big cello melody. Along with the Kulning tune, these ideas mix and match in various ways throughout the whole piece.
The key points to listen for are:
0:00. Opening Chorale
0:46 Two lines grow and inter-twine leading to -
1:18 The Kulning tune
1:38. The faster folky material arrives thrown around between instruments
2:00. The full version of the folky tune
2:35 The minimalist chord sequence with the first phrase of the opening chorale melody repeated
3:23. The big cello melody against the minimalist chord sequence
4:08. The Kulning tune interrupts things with a different accompaniment this time
4:42. A section where bits of all the previous tunes appear in canon and counterpoint - all mixed up!
5:54 A new version of the 2:35 material...
6:40. The return of the opening chorale.
7:15. The closing section with tiny references to snippets of earlier tunes.
7:45 The end!
To listen to a computer version of this piece please follow this link (scrolling through the other pieces if necessary).
I hope you enjoy the piece.
PS: The piece didn't get short-listed in the competition so is available for anyone else to perform... Please contact me if you are interested.