Paul Max EdlinComposer | Artistic Director | Lecturer | Performer

2017 (appx. 22 mins)

commissioned by and for the London Chamber Orchestra and all the young Music Junction performers

1 – Circles and Symmetries
2 – Invention 1 – The Creation of Artificial Light
3 – Invention 2 – Velocity and Speed – the Age of the Train
4 – Invention 3 – NASA and the Golden Record
5 – Simple Gifts

The music is designed to include the following instruments at advanced, intermediate and beginner levels.
Saxophone (alto)
Parts can be added/adapted for other instruments including Bassoon/s
Piccolo Trumpet (professional player)
Trumpets in Bb
Parts can be added/adapted for other instruments including horns, trombones and tuba, etc
KEYBOARD – 1 or 2 players (an electric keyboard can be used)
PERCUSSION – several players, including: Vibraphone, Suspended Cymbals (with bows), Side Drums (at least 2), Tam-tam, optional Gong, Bass Drum, various assorted miscellaneous instruments such as wine glasses/plastic bottles.
Parts currently for Violins and Cello
All Music Junction participants to sing
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION – singing in the final setting of ‘Simple Gifts’

Flute (doubling piccolo and bass flutes)
Clarinet in Bb
Strings (7,5,4,4,2)

The brief for this composition was to create a work for the London Chamber Orchestra to play with well over 100 young people. It also needed to use the Shaker melody ‘Simple Gifts’.

‘Simple Gifts’ was composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett in Maine. It has one verse:
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Brackett’s song is almost exactly contemporaneous with the birth of Thomas Edison (born 1947), and this coincidence made me consider the ‘simple gifts’ that we take for granted – artificial light, recordings, transport, even journeying into space. What in 1847 would have been unimaginable, pure fantasy, is now part of everyday life. This work takes head on aspects of musical composition and music education via the sciences that have changed the way we live.
‘Circles and Symmetries’ explores the Shaker melody via the circle of fifths (i.e. the various keys possible in a particular order). Simultaneously it considers pleasing issues of symmetry and the golden section. The text is created by the young participants.
The Creation of Artificial Light’ explores the ‘natural harmonic series’ and the use of symbolism including ciphers (based on the name of Thomas Edison). The whispers are based on the materials which were used by Edison in his early experiments and his created light bulbs.
‘Velocity and Speed’ explores the idea of the ‘accelerando’, some at varying speeds, and gives opportunity to enjoy the imitation of the sounds of trains.
NASA has recorded sounds of/in space (the results of electromagnetic vibrations that pulsate in similar wavelengths). (Many of these recordings are publically available via You Tube and Soundcloud, and these are used as inspiration for the extemporised passages in the 4th section). Furthermore, NASA sent a ‘golden record’ deep into space via Voyager Interstellar Mission. The Voyager message is carried on a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk (the phonograph was another of Edison’s inventions) containing sounds and images that portray the diversity of Earth’s life and culture. There are many musical examples, including works by Bach, Beethoven and Stravinsky, but also Javanese Gamelan, Panpipes from the Solomon Islands, Mexican music and Japanese flute music – all depicted in a somewhat surreal way in this movement. Finally, we return to the original Shaker melody, to simply celebrate the song’s meaning as well as the world we have created. This piece is proudly educational.
© Paul Max Edlin 2016

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