SOFT MACHINES

CHAMBER ORCHESTRA & ELECTROACOUSITC INSTRUMENTS · 2017


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An introspective composition, evocative of the The Soft Machine by William Burroughs. Elms’ composition makes use of Burroughs’ cut-up technique — structures cut up and rearranged — to create an abstract sonic landscape that is dominated by the expressive voice of a bowed electric guitar.

Soft Machines is a commentary upon “coming of age” and how this period of transition has been represented by the literary and poetic works that emerged out of the Beat culturural movement. The free-form structure, vivid descriptions and onomatopoeic language of Beat culture has long-inspired creators across all artistic mediums, but Elms was drawn to this cultural movement because of the many works that documented the transition of their authors from artistic adolescence to adulthood. Some of the symbology and practices of Beat culture, such as the “cut up method” of William S. Burroughs, are used by Elms to inform the structure and harmonic content of the music; elements of the instrumentation and musical phrasing draw inspiration from bebop. These influences and processes comment upon the rights of passage undergone by all creators of artistic works and build towards an explosion of frenetic musical language, which is representative of the free-flowing verse, spontaneity and excitement of the Beat cultural movement.

The second of five works, collated in the album Islandia, that were first sketched in November 2015 at the former home of Imogen Holst, Aldeburgh.

1 TRUMPET Bb

with harmon mute (stem out)

1 PERCUSSION

vibraphone (F3-F6), tuned gong (C#2, bass drum (approx. 40")

1 ELECTRIC GUITAR

with on-stage amplifier, EBow Plus, reverb and delay signal processors

1 PIANO
STRING QUARTET
1 SAMPLER*

with 2 on-stage monitors for stereo playback

1 SYNTHESIZER

with on-stage monitor or amplifier

*A polyphonic synthesizer of at least 6 voices may be used as an alternative instrument if provision of a sampler is not possible.

DURATION: 8 MINUTES
PUBLISHED BY MUSIC SALES
ALDEBURGH, NOV 2015 (First Sketch)