SOLO

Lullabaababyt​  (2007)​

​Forces: Solo piano miniature

Duration: 1'30"

​This piece was written for Arthur Underwood, born 21st November 2007 to my friends Ross and Molly. I originally intended to merge two or three nursery rhyme themes such as Baa baa black sheep and Lullabybaby (hence the title) with excerpts from Brahms' Wiegenlied (purely for its recognisable features), this soon changed to a more organic approach and the only surviving material of this initial process is the opening two bar flurry and chord. I eventually ended up using a very small three note cell found in Brahms' piece with which I expanded through various permutations, with pitch movement (in various ways) centred mainly about the interval of a major second and rhythmically around triplets, this material is placed predominantly at the lighter end of the keyboard.

...o'...  (2007)​

​Forces: Solo piano miniature

Duration: 1'30"

This piece is derived from Ring a ring o'roses. Although similar in concept to Lullabaababy t, this couldn't be further from the formers' intention. The title ...o'... derives not only from the original nursery rhyme's title but refers to Pauline Reage's (Anne Desclos) 1954 erotic novel Histoire d'O, about sadomasochism. The O in the title can refer to Odile (the female centre point of the literary work), 'object' or even 'orifice', which in this case, due to the lyrics of the traditional nursery rhyme, could easily be the nostril. The similarity between the orgasm and the sneeze is an intriguingly close one.

Girls and Boys Come Out Then Play (2007)​

​Forces: Solo piano miniature

Duration: 1'30"

Unlike ...o'... the nursery theme is clear from the outset. This is invaded by brief pedalled panic attacks in the left hand until a kind of balance is obtained in the messy, spiky flurries. The theme appears twice more stripped and deconstructed before being totally engulfed.

Little AsBo-Peep (2007)​

​Forces: Solo piano miniature

Duration: 1'

For this piece I used the traditional material in a very different way than the others. The scenario was lifted from the text itself;

It happened one day, as Bo-Peep did stay

Into a meadow hard by,

There she espied their tails side by side,

All hung on a tree to dry

She heaved a sigh, and wiped her eye,

And over the hillocks went rambling,

And tried what she could, as a shepherdess should,

To tack again each to its lambkin.

The pianist must do exactly this, just like 'pin the tail on the donkey', he/she is blindfolded and is provoked by an accompanying CD track into locating each sheep by their relative pitch and violently tacking a tail to the keyboard whilst repeating a pre-learnt part based on a version of the original nursery rhyme's rhythmical skeleton. During this, his/her efforts are made more difficult by the piano stool being pushed up and down the length of the keyboard.

Forget Baudrillard (2007)

​Forces: Solo piano miniature

Duration: 1'

Baudrillard, Lacan, and Disney feature in here somewhere.

Tic (2007)

​Forces: Cello/Voice

Duration: 12'

Written for Laura Moody, and premiered at Sir Jack Lyons Music Hall in York. This piece incorporates various vocal tics such as stuttering and tourettes like outbursts, alongside musical quotations from Bach, classic WW2 songs, and Pathe news-reel clippets, all structurally governed by the transcript of Tony Blair's fairwell speech. God knows why, I can't remember.

Game-Hate-Box (2007)

​Forces: Voice​/Tape/Video

Duration: 16'

Written for Anne Rhodes, and premiered in Connecticut, US. The score exists in four parts; a notated part, a stream of text, a comic strip (see below), and a governing video featuring two suited men, the position of which determine which scores are to be read at any one time (see bottom left). The video also contains audio clips from Box 1: The Amputee, and Box 3: The Mirror Dwarf, as pre-recorded accompaniment.



1/11

(click on image to enlarge gallery)

Beat Me (2007/11)

​Forces: Piano/Alarm Sample

Duration: 8'30"

Written for Mark Knoop, and first performed at the BMIC Cutting Edge Series, at the Warehouse, Waterloo, 2008. A mash up of the material and practices of William S. Burroughs and Percy Grainger. The musical material consists of a poetic transcription of passages of Naked Lunch, and distortions of Grainger's Handel in the Strand and Country Gardens. The alarm samples act as the 'safe word' for an imaginary liaison between the work's protagonists.  All musical material appears twice in some shape or form, except the very last bar.

(click on image to enlarge gallery)

1/5

​"Baby You and Me Girl" (2009)

​Forces: Amplified Voice

Duration: 4'30"

Alphabet based, vocal gibberish. First performed at the Slade as part of The Voice and Nothing More, 2009.

Nina Geisha (2010)

​Forces: Piano

Duration: 2'

Composed for Nina de la Cour's 32nd birthday. Based on traditional Japanese folk material.

Quartet for solo 'cello (2010)

​Forces: 'cello

Duration: 12'

Commissioned by Soundwaves Festival, Brighton, and written for Robin Michael. Four parts from four separate string quartets are stitched together, then arranged for solo 'cello. The cellist follows an ever increasing metronome click track whilst seated on his/her own in a quartet setting.

Neun und Neunzig - Complete Method (2010/11)

​Forces: Accordion

Duration: 10'30"

Written for Mark Knoop for the album Accordion Favourites. Centred on the concept of a wheeze, the musical material consists mainly of distortions of Anzaghi's Accordion bible Complete Method, alongside snippets of Chopin and Pergolesi, who both died of TB.The recorded version features a graphic section, in which the performer imitates an accordionist playing a cardboard accordion, accompanied by a respirator and a subliminal rendition of a traditional sea shanty.

Benny's (squib-box) Song (2011)

​Forces: Voice/Midi Accompaniment

Duration: 2'

Written for squib-box's Resonance FM series Blacklists and Happenfilths. The song chronicles the musical exploits of squib-box's very own Federico Reuben, Neil Luck, and Adam de la Cour.

Piano Piece 10 (2011/12)

​Forces: Piano

Duration: 21'

Premiered at The Forge, Camden, 2012.

The piece was commissioned by Mark Knoop, with the idea that it would be played alongside Stockhausen's Klavierstuck X. I couldn't ignore the presence of the 'maestro', so decided to rewrite Klavierstuck X, using the visual aspect of the original score as the material to be distorted and re-sculptured. Beyond the musical processes (mentioned below), the idea I had in mind was to create a look-alike (specifically for the pianist), not a sound-alike.



Imagine a post-concert drinks, where a man looking very much like Stockhausen (I realise he's now passed on) rolls up to you and strikes up a conversation. He looks very similar, but his accent is off, and he doesn't seem to know anything about music. As the conversation progresses, it is blatantly clear, this is a cheap imitation, at which point the look-alike tries to make a swift exit.



So the score acts like an outer skin, with a fairly rigid bone structure underneath (both scores are 38 pages long), but the person inside wearing it, is a completely unique entity, knowing next to nothing of his new 'suit', only that he's confined by it, and that people expect him to act a certain way.


On first viewing, the score looks almost identical, but on closer inspection, the rhythmical 'architecture' has been tampered with, and all the pitches are different, consisting of a mixture of Scarlatti quotes (chosen, based on a quote by Robin Maconie), octatonic 'pinballing', and cut-ins of material found in other pieces on the concert programme, chosen by the pianist. The reading of certain notational devices are altered too, e.g stem contours governing dynamics, rather than tempo.


The unique glissando 'rolls' are based on a stupid technique some friends and I used at college during our A-Levels, I knew one day they would be put to wonderful use by a world class pianist.

Block (2012)

​Forces: Viola

Duration: 2'

Commissioned by Paul Silverthorne, and premiered at St. Luke's, London.

Block came about through a mix of diverse influences over a two week period. The initial starting point was Freud's quote concerning the death drive (Todestrieb):

"the hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state"


...which was then mixed in with some experiments with the octatonic scale; general writing by ear; and many moments of writer's block.

Triptych No.3 (2012)

​Forces: Piano

Duration: 4'

The third part of a 'romantic triptych' for Jonathan Powell. The material for this movement came from the piece Quartet for solo 'cello (see above).

"quite hard to play in a way... perversely enjoyable, since I think it pisses off new music and traditional audiences in equal measure..." Jonathan Powell

"Holy Toledo" (2014)

​Forces: Piano

Duration: 10'

“Holy Toledo” was written for Ian Pace, and is an homage to the playing of the great pianist Art Tatum. It was premiered at City Summer Sounds, City University London. Dedicated to France de la Cour.

 

It has often been remarked that many of Tatum’s contemporaries were mistaken in thinking they were hearing two pianists when listening to Tatum’s early recordings, with this in mind I decided to utilise multiple layers of Tatum transcriptions and arrange them into one part. The process was akin to sculpting, and the choices were made in an improvisatory manner, much like Tatum’s own real-time arrangements of standards. The piece consists of four ‘sections’, each dealing with Tatum’s material in a different way, including a ‘cutting session’ that truly tests the technical abilities of the performer.

 

"Imagine a thoroughly and utterly demented combination of Tatum, Nancarrow and Finnissy, but all delivered in a particular type of slightly estranged, vehement style that seems to filter it through a cubist reading of free jazz!" Ian Pace

Liber Canis: Chapter I: The Flea aka "Sell Her Bed To Lie Upon Dirt" (2015)​

​Forces: Performer

Duration: Any

The real and perfect ritual of the flea.

 

Commissioned by Alwynne Pritchard for the Bergen International Festival as part of her DOG/GOD project.

 

The piece takes part of its name ("Sell her bed to lie upon dirt") from a line found in the old nursery rhyme "See Saw Margery Daw", which is also found within Aleister Crowley's Book of Lies, Chapter 63 (commentary). Within the chapter he states "I wrenched DOG backwards to find GOD; now GOD barks."

 

The physical gestures are derived from OCD tics that I suffered as a child. The inhaled Latin text is a bastardised version of The Lord's Prayer, with canine references cut-in. Alongside it are included the opening lines of the ritual Liber Israfel (Formerly Liber Anubis). The exhaled exclamations are quotes by Scooby-Doo and Droopy Dog.

 

The conclusion of the ritual should bring a state of rest, free of any agitation or itching.

Transplant The Movie! (2016)​

Forces: Piano/Film

Duration: 13'

A silent movie accompanist accompanies the movie Transplant The Movie! - “A world-famous concert pianist…an accident…a transplant…a whole lot of trouble!”

Featuring music by Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Joplin, Scriabin, Satie, Bartok and Webern.

Commissioned by Zubin Kanga. First performed at Cheltenham Music Festival 2016.

Featuring footage from The Hands of Orlac, Hands of a Stranger and Monster Maker.

The film version below is Transplant The Movie! The Movie!

Pianist: Zubin Kanga
Curated, directed, filmed and 'composed' by Adam de la Cour
Sound Engineer: Richard Thomas

© 2012 Adam de la Cour