PhD Composer research

Crossman Piece Sample

In 2017, interviews + rehearsals with composer Bruce Crossman on his new piece dedicated to Peter Sculthorpe, Dying of the Light.

About the Music

Dr Bruce Crossman writes:

My purpose in writing this piece was to create a work for my colleague—Katia Beaugeais—that captured the meditative stillness and living colour fluctuations of the Japanese Honkyoku tradition, reinterpreted for soprano saxophone as a tribute to one of my mentors—Peter Sculthorpe. The piece begins in the ritualised stillness of crotales ringing, as if being a Buddhist prayer bell, and emerges into glossolalia type chanting from the Judaic Christian tradition with shakuhachi-like explosions of air, panting and arch-like exuberant melodic phrases—peppered with grace-note articulations and flourishes to energize it. The ritualised crotales and chant sounds recur as restful refrains and meditative moments throughout the work, whilst exuberantly free bursts of Gagaku-derived Pacific harmony gradually reveal themselves throughout the piece; these climax in an exuberant and liberated athletic section utilising the rich colour range of the soprano saxophone. In quick snatches of sound, the climactic resonance gradually ebbs back to panting, ritualised chant and crotales, and distilled stillness that dies into a sub-tone flourish.

Crossman cites the following influences on this work:
Shakuhachi, Japanese Honkyoku tradition, Gagaku, Paul Motian

Instrumentation: Soprano Saxophone (Bb) [transposed]; 1 E-note crotales [sounds two octaves higher than written] with brass mallet or small Japanese temple bowl with bead striker; voice [at pitch]

Duration: ca. 5’00

Difficulty: Advanced — Complex rhythmic detail and changing colour nuances

Dedication note: to Peter Sculthorpe




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