Monday, June 29, 2009

Composition - At The End of Our Exploring

I've decided to put up an old composition for string ensemble called At The End of All Our Exploring.

I wrote this work during my final year at University when I heard that my Grandfather had been diagnosed with cancer. I didn't really know what to say at the time but this six bar choral idea (the first 6 bars of music) just came out of me while sitting at the piano one afternoon.

After the choral idea is stated initially, I start playing with the function of all four voices getting different harmonic changes by altering the function of each part. For example, in the first variation of the choral idea (starting at bar 7), the melody (Violin I) and the bass line (Cello) swap so that the original bass line is now the new melody and vice versa.

I continued experimenting with all different combinations of ideas until I had written out all the possible variations. I then placed them in an order that would give an overall structure to the mood of the piece, focusing particularly on the melody line (Violin I). Once I was satisfied with the structure, I decided that a different idea was needed to momentarily break up the continual repetition (even though it was through variations) of the original 6 bar choral idea. Bar 31 was where I decided it should go which was about half way. It starts off the same as the original theme but then momentarily goes off in another harmonic direction. This then leads into more variations until the last variation of the piece which is the original choral idea in reverse.

The title for this piece is actually taken from a poem by T.S. Eliot:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot -- "Little Gidding" (the last of his Four Quartets)

I was reading through some short poems (I can't really remember why to be honest) and thought that this sentiment was really nice. Then I made the connection that it could also be used to describe the structure of the composition I had just completed, so I decided to title the work with the starting line of the relevant section of the poem.

If you would like to have a look at the score for this piece, please click here.

- Andrew

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