All Works

2014

There Will Be Elephants

for Wind Orchestra

2014

Duration

c. 19 minutes

Performances

Currently Unperformed

Program Note

In his book, Creation Revisited: The Origin of Space, Time and the Universe, Peter Atkins reduces the apparent complexity of all things to a beginning of absolute simplicity. He argues that given just basic ingredients, time, and a suitable climate, all things are possible:

'It is undeniable that [molecules] can emerge into existence if the appropriate atoms are available, for little molecules are just a few atoms stuck together, and atoms stick together. If there are atoms there will in due course be molecules; and if there are molecules on warm, wet platforms, there will in due course be elephants.'

Atkins remarks that energy is at its highest quality when it is at its most simple state and that the nature of the universe is for energy to lose quality through a continuous decline into chaos. This musical work for wind orchestra explores these same ideas through three 'orientations'. In each, the piece resets to a state of simplicity before expanding, evolving, and, inevitably, degrading into chaos. The work also responds to Total Strife Forever, an album of electronic music by East India Youth which I found impossible to separate from Atkins' writings:

'The quality of energy is like a slowly unwinding spring. The quality spontaneously declines and the spring of the universe unwinds. The quality spontaneously degrades, and the spontaneity of the degradation drives the interdependent processes webbed around and within us, as through the interlocked gear wheels of a sophisticated machine. Such is the complexity of the interlocking that here and there chaos may temporarily recede, as when cathedrals are built and symphonies are performed. But these are temporary and local deceits, for deeper in the world the spring inescapably unwinds. Everything is driven by decay. Everything is driven by motiveless, purposeless decay...

There is no need to look for a purpose behind it all: energy has just gone on spreading, and the spreading has happened to generate elephants and enthralling opinions...

The only faith we need is the belief that everything can be understood and, ultimately, that there is nothing to explain.'

Bunny Pit

for soprano saxophone, electric guitar, piano and drum kit

2014

Duration

c. 6.5 minutes

Performances

Premiere: 8 July 2014
Cheltenham Music Festival (2014)
The Sanders Room, Cheltenham Ladies College
Performed by the Pop-Up Quartet

Program Note

With love, anything is possible...

Framed Misfortunes

for string quartet

2014

Duration

c. 16 minutes

Performances

Currently unperformed.

Workshop performance: April 2014
Carducci Quartet

Program Note

I - Banana Scientists
II - Scorpy the Forest Friend
III - Suicide Train
IV - Puppy Wish

Inspired by the comic strips of Nicholas Gurewitch and the Perry Bible Fellowship, this string quartet presents four unfolding narratives linked by a reversal of fortune in the final frame. Discussing the contemporary relevance of this comic, Diablo Cody reflects:

'Enjoying this comic is never a passive experience. Breathtaking art aside, the observations on human behaviour are as provocative (and challenging) as they are hilarious. Those smiling round-headed dudes who serve as protagonists in many PBF strips seem scarily familiar - aren't we all just blank, tragic dumbasses who wish we had a puppy?'

Framed Misfortunes was composed in 2014 for a workshop performance by the Carducci Quartet.

Tags

Put A Tiger In Your Ornate Garden Hedge Maze

concerto for solo tuba

2014

Duration

c. 1 minute

Performances

Currently unperformed

Program Note

This work for solo tuba offers a duality of emotions: confusion and fear of impending danger. Whilst the work is not strictly programmatic, the title suggests the confusion one might feel when lost in an ornate garden hedge maze, as well as the fear of impending danger one might feel if there were also a tiger nearby.

Put A Tiger In Your Ornate Garden Hedge Maze was composed in 2014 for Kenyon Wilson as part of the Vox Novus initiative 'Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame'.

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Concerto

Castell Corbett

march for brass band

2014

Duration

c. 3.5 minutes

Performances

Premiere: 15 February 2014
National University Brass Band Championships of Great Britain 2014
Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre
Performed by the Cardiff University Brass Band

Program Note

With this work I have attempted to compose a piece of music in the British band march tradition. The work pays homage to much of the stylistic and formal attributes which are so synonymous with band culture, but tries to find new ways to express and articulate these fundamental components.

Castell Corbett was commissioned by the Cardiff University Brass Band for performance at the National University Brass Band Championships of Great Britain 2014, held at the Butterworth Hall, Warwick.

Not For Free

for cello quartet

2014

Duration

c. 3.5 minutes

Performances

Currently unperformed.

Workshop performance: January 2014
The Boathouse Cello Choir (Florida, USA)

Program Note

Coming soon.

Tags

2013

Put A Tiger In Your Swamp

for symphony orchestra

2013

Duration

c. 6.5 minutes

Performances

Currently unperformed.

Program Note

This work for symphony orchestra is a musical sequel to an earlier piece commissioned by the Cardiff University Big Band: Put A Tiger In Your Tank (2013). Whilst both are completely stand alone works, they do share many musical materials, explored in differing ways. I became fascinated by the concept of sequels in other art forms and stumbled across the perfect stimulus material whilst moving into a new house. Left in the gas meter cupboard by the previous tenants was a DVD documentary entitled Swamp Tigers (dir. Mike Herd, 2005) and irresistibly Put A Tiger In Your Swamp began to take shape.

Whilst I did not conceive the work to programmatically follow the activities of these marshland predators, perhaps some of the more striking images depicted in the documentary have found their way into my music: 'their main requirements are an ample supply of prey and a dense vegetation in which to stalk it... they specialise in killing hoofed mammals, but also the heavy cattle... meerkats will screech out a warning whenever they come near... the tiger moves so silently that even if the prey catches a faint whiff of its scent, it cannot necessarily predict the direction from which an attack will come'.

Put A Tiger In Your Swamp was premiered by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (Frank Zielhorst conductor) at the Lighthouse, Poole - February 2015.

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Orchestra

Your Powers Are Weak

for flute, clarinet and piano

2013

Duration

c. 1 minutes

Performances

Premiere: 4 December 2013
Cardiff University 'Britten 100' Celebration
Performed by the Cardon Ensemble

Program Note

When asked for a one-minute variation on the Purcell theme that inspired The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, with the specific instruction to challenge the idea of a variation, I decided to vary the brief itself. Rather than a response to Britten directly, this short trio takes its stimulus from his successor as Britain's leading composer: Thomas Adés. National pride surrounds Britten's music, so I decided to base my work upon the more cynical patriotism of Adés' America: A Prophecy, alongside the pomp and circumstance of the originally intended stimulus.

Your Powers Are Weak was composed as part of Cardiff University's 'Britten 100' celebrations.

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Made-Up Love Songs

for alto and two violas

2013

Duration

c. 10 minutes

Performances

Premier: 8 April 2014
Cardiff University Chamber Concert Series 2013/14
New Hall, Corbett Road
Performed by the Cardiff University Contemporary Music Group
Alto: Bryony Doyle
Violas: Julia E. Howell and Andy Weiner
April 2014.

Program Note

This song cycle glimpses love through different windowpanes: joy, anger, depression, resentment, acceptance. The individual titles refer to songs by the band gUiLLeMoTs, whose lyrics have been recycled for this piece. This, however, is as far as their influence permeates. Perhaps.

Made-Up Love Songs is dedicated to Annie, who didn't wait.

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AEON

12-hour continuous work for improvising ensemble

2013

Duration

12 hours

Performances

Premiere: 28 April 2013
CafJazz, Cardiff
Performed by Oblique3 and friends

Program Note

AEON is a musical endeavour first, a composition second. The piece aims to bring together all things: histories, philosophies, literature, ideals, emotions, but most importantly, people. Written to be performed only once, by Oblique3 and friends, this project should be nothing if not fun.

We work using postcard scores, where an image, an idea, a score, a quote, or almost anything at all can be the springboard for an improvisation. We use all the same core elements as a traditional composition: themes, riffs, chord progressions, modulations and so on. The only difference is that we develop these elements live, rather than on paper. Peter Wiegold once said 'composition and performance are the same thing. I feel sorry for composers, they have to painstakingly write down what improvisers can do spontaneously'.

The word AEON has several meanings, but most pertinent for me was the amount of time between two big bangs; the start of the universe to the end of the universe in a cyclic pattern. As such, the piece tries to offer some sort of brief overview of everything that has ever happened, or will ever happen, through a gallimaufry of styles and ideas.

The piece is divided into twelve sections, each an hour long, and each loosely inspired by one of the twelve Gods of Olympus. They are titled as follows:

'The Beginning'
The Pastoral'
'The Industrial'
'The Blue Planet'
'The Banal'
'The Sage'
'The Woman's Hour'
'The Hunt'
'The Enlightenment'
'The Love Pump'
'The War'
'The End'

AEON was composed by Martin Humphries, Ethan Davies & Oblique3, with additional materials from Ben Atkinson and Daniel Wyn Jones. The first performance was directed by Martin Humphries.

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