Marking Time (2016)
For three instruments.
Written for the GreyWing Trio 2016 (Clarinet, guitar, harp).
Premiered 27 February 2016 at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
28 October 2017, Camino al Tagliamento (UD), Italy at the "Camino Contro Corrente 2017 - La Rivoluzione d'Ottobre" Festival.
"Notes began and ended with barely any ostentation—they merely happened, and it’s an effect that sucked the (com)passion out of the sound. As time was marked in this way, it was hard not to treat the work as programmatic, a political and psychological history of the violence Australia has perpetuated on asylum seekers and refugees. Silences felt like reprieves—inspiring thoughts that perhaps a change in leadership, a successful legal challenge, would yield a change in policy — yet before the silence barely registered, the glissandi began again, relentlessly, hopelessly, the shattering experiences of the hundreds of detained asylum seekers made audible." Micheal Terren, CutCommon.
This is a work that explores the power of limited materials. Each instrument has a very limited and restricted range in the piece, but explores it through the timbral variation of pitch bending and extreme, constant, smooth control of microscopic change.
Marking Time was an Australian TV series made in 2003, and was the first mainstream media project to address the Australian Government’s refugee policies through the story of Afghan refugees in a regional country town. The refugee issue has been handled badly for many years, only the idea of Marking Time has a much more sinister implication than it did 13 years ago, with detention centres holding adult and children refugees for years. In these environments, small details become amplified, and control is the ultimate challenge.
The score is made up of several slides that appear in a different order each time.
Each instrument chooses a colour from red, purple or blue. They follow this colour for the whole piece. The three grey lines are reference lines that represent the range of a single, ongoing sound - the top line is the highest point, the bottom is the lowest, and the middle is the ‘starting’ or stable, middle point.
The guitar should use an ebow and pitch bend up and down from a single note. The harp should bow a note and tune it up and down either with the bow pressure or other methods. The bass clarinet should lip bend up and down around chosen note. Any note in the bottom octave of the instrument can be chosen. The distance between the highest and lowest pitch ‘bend’ for each instrument may be different, but it is important that the motion between the extremes be constant, as smooth and coordinated as possible at all times. The score should be read in the Decibel ScorePlayer app on an iPad, where you add the score file available here. This score can also be read from a video, available on this webpage.