Mist/Branches against a white sky.

Steve Davismoon, Roberto Fabbriciani (Producer)

    Research output: Non-textual formComposition

    30 Downloads (Pure)


    I composed the two companion pieces for piccolo ‘mist/…branches against a white sky’ during 2004 – started in the early late Winter and early Spring in Kedainiai (Lithuania), then Glasgow and finished them during a summer of work in Tuscany. The overriding metaphor for these two movements is the witnessing of the gradual emanation and movement of life – from the harsh icy mists of a Lithuanian winter slowly, inevitably giving way to gentle tendrils of life. By 2003 I had come to know the pioneering flute work of Roberto Fabbriciani very well – in fact by this time I was lucky enough to be able to count on him as a close friend. I was honoured by his invitation to compose a new work for solo piccolo. Repertoire of works for solo piccolo is much smaller than that of the standard flute, perhaps because it is perceived as being limited from the perspectives of timbre and register – how is one to compose a structure of convincing dramatic contrast for such a small, high pitched instrument. Two important compositional models for me were the seminal piccolo works Nidi by Franco Donatoni (1979) and Superscriptio by Brian Ferneyhough (1981) – each commissioned and premiered by Fabbriciani. These works each demonstrated significant advances in the use of extended techniques, including microtonal trills, quarter tones, flutter tongue, multiphonics etc – each displayed the mercurial virtuosity that is achievable across its keys. Many of the colourations of mist/branches against a white sky: intonated and tremolo breath, whistle tones, harmonics, lip bend, mobility of distance of lips to mouthpiece etc. recall the many colourations of the works mentioned above and many more besides – including those by Luigi Nono, Salvatore Sciarinno, Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna many of which were composed around the extraordinary musicianship of Roberto Fabbriciani. It was my intention to compose a work for this instrument of sonic brilliance that would draw upon and extend its many articulative colours that have been explored over the last few decades, while at the same time compose a work that would make a substantial contribution to the solo piccolo repertoire. Once I had settled upon its palette of sonic colours I allowed them to unfold ever so gradually over its canvas of time - aided by a probabilistic time-based computer algorithm realised in the ircam software environment OpenMusic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Media of outputCD
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Jun 2017


    • Piccolo
    • Extended Techniques
    • Algorithmic Composition


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