1 E flat cornet, 5 B flat cornets, 1 B flat repiano cornet, 1 B flat flugelhorn, 2 B flat 2nd cornets, 2 B flat 3rd cornets, 3 E flat tenor horns, 2 B flat baritones, 2 B flat euphoniums, 2 B flat tenor trombones, 1 G bass trombone, 2 E flat bass, 2 B flat bass, snare drum, bass drum, cymbal.
This work began as an exercise in the use of L-Systems as a compositional tool, inspired by Hanspeter Kyburz’s Cells and Michael Norris’ research into methods of using these patterns. L- Systems are algorithms designed by the biologist Aristid Lindenmayer to imitate natural processes of growth and decay and can be musically interpreted in various ways. Three different L-Systems were used for this work; the example on the following page is that of the first movement. Here, and similarly in the third movement, each letter of the pattern was substituted with a different musical gesture. Using gesture rather than specific motifs allowed more compositional freedom to develop ideas while working within the set pattern. In order to create a more lyrical second movement, I experimented with substituting pitch class sets to the pattern, rather than gestures. As a result, the musical growth that is evident in the other movements is not so clear. No mathematical system can be adhered to precisely without a loss of musicality, hence the L-systems I used quickly became macrostructural. These patterns also reach a point where there is too much self-similarity and they must be abandoned in favour of musical intuition. The title refers to the Fibonacci series. Many L-systems (although not the following example!) bear a relationship to this in the length of each new generation.
Written for the 2004 Douglas Lilburn Trust Composition Prize competition, Fanfare of the Earth dates from my second year of undergrad at the University of Auckland. The première was by a scratch ensemble in the Prize Gala Concert. Due to the difficulty in scheduling and assembling 11 brass players (an unwieldy task I set myself mostly to prove I could), the one and only rehearsal finished 55 minutes before the gig. The performance was, as I remember, functional to put it kindly; dodgy to put it honestly; a bit shit, to be blunt.
Losing nearly all of my Sibelius files in a hard drive crash the following year, it was only on paper that this piece languished in my archives (a Bernadino wine box in my parents’ attic). But when Lee Martelli, Education Manager of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, mentioned to me that she’s always on the look-out for brass music, I saw a chance to literally dust off and figuratively resuscitate it. Inputting it into Sibelius again (and reflecting on how that software has changed – what wonders Dynamic Parts and Magnetic Layout are!) I’ve made revisions, mostly to articulation, phrasing and dynamics.
The piece itself then? I suppose I should say something about it. So…
It’s a fanfare… and it’s written for brass… kind of does what it says on the tin, really. No complex layers here.