Composed 1999, duration 8’00”
Performance by Bridget Douglas, Wellington, 1999:
The flax plant, and a cluster of related images, stand behind this piece. While not directly pictorial, it suggests flickering, swaying movement, and a fascination with dry, rustling sounds. These sounds and movements are not self-sustaining, but set in motion by the agency of air, of wind and, in this case, of human breath. These activating forces suggest echoes of the environments in which the plant grows. On another level of human agency, the place of flax as a raw material for intricately woven objects also intersects with the music. The piece is concerned with the relationship between the flute as an acoustical system and the human gestures by which its sounds are produced. The flute’s capacity for timbral modification, for the simultaneous manipulation of multiple aspects of the sound production, would seem to invite a sonically directed musical form. This approach encourages the instrument into unstable behaviours, as different, and sometimes conflicting performance gestures are superimposed, or placed in quick succession. I am deeply grateful to Bridget Douglas for her close collaboration in the making of the piece.