Improvisation Works

2014

Temperamental Navigator

for improvising quartet

2014

Duration

variable

Performances

Premiere: 2nd December 2014
The Octagon: Cardiff University
Performed by the Oblique3 Chamber Players

Program Note

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...

2013

AEON

12-hour continuous work for improvising ensemble

2013

Duration

12 hours

Performances

Premiere: 28 April 2013
CaféJazz, 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.

2012

Sir John, That Apple is Poisonous

for improvising ensemble

2012

Duration

Unspecified

Performances

Premiere: 19 May 2013
'Stages of Death: Men, Women and Suffering in Opera and Ballet', symposium host by the Cardiff University Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Opera
New Hall, Corbett Road

Program Note

This improvised tone poem can never be performed the same way twice. Inspired by Peter Wiegold and his ensemble, notes Inégales, the music is open to interpretation and the score provides little more than a springboard for improvisation. The piece should also follow an improvised programmatic contour. Suggested, but by no means exclusive thematic elements could include:

- Sir John: noble, brave, virtuous;
- The apple: temptation, damnation, the perversion of purity;
- Poison: a deterioration of all that is good, weakening, dying, dead!

This composition is dedicated the Cardiff University Tokyo Cheesecake Orchestra, without whom my afternoons would have been a lot less eventful.