Daedalus in Flight

This work is rapid throughout with an incessant pulse of 138 crotchet beats per minute. From the outset, the music is characterised by continuous metamorphoses in timbre and texture, often punctuated by stabbing chords.

by Dr David Horne (Boosey and Hawkes, 2013).

In Greek myth, Daedalus fashioned sets of wings with which he and his son Icarus could escape Minos of Crete; only Daedalus survived the flight.

This is not intentionally explicitly descriptive music, but while writing I was fixated by musical notions of escape, flight and subsequent reflection on their effects.

The resulting orchestral sweeps and plunges, combined with sudden dynamic shifts, were conscious attempts to evoke the sense of this imaginary aerial journey.

A problem preoccupying the writing of the work was how to achieve a satisfying sense of variation within the imposed confines of the relentless beat. A technique that has informed much of my orchestral music since 2000 is the idea of ‘aural camouflage’.

In particular, I play with sound not only to blend timbres but to attempt to trick the listener into wondering what instruments are playing what. For example, a strident plucked chord in the strings will quietly resonate in winds where the source of the ‘echo’ is uncertain and constantly changing.

There is also a conscious textural interplay between families of instruments pitted against each other and then fragmented with such a wide array of doublings that the characters of particular groups of instruments are obscured. Much of the music is concerned with writing idiomatically in order to extract maximum gain out of the orchestra. While there is no claim that this is easy music to play it is intended to sound harder than it is.

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