Between the Reeds was composed in 1987-1988 for two musically talented young ladies from Oswestry, Olwen and Fiona Lyntern. Besides the obvious reference o the oboe’s double reed, the title can also be viewed as a sound picture of wild life swimming between the reeds in the stream.
‘Roll Jordan Roll’ (movement one) is a series of genre variations on the African-American spiritual of the same name. The melody was transcribed from a 78rpm recording of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and in turn, this appeared on the 1962 Folkways LP entitled An Introduction to Gospel Song. In my version, the listener will hear my own harmonization followed sequentially by pastiches of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Lennie Tristano, Anton Webern, and Thelonious Monk, in turn.
‘Dangdut’ (movement two) is a direct transcription of an Indonesian street musician called Mas Sujud. He and the tune appeared on a 1982 Kiwi-Pacific Records Ltd./Hibiscus Records LP called Music for Sale (Indonesian street music recorded by Jack Body). In the original, the singer accompanies himself on a small drum, and in my version, the piano part was generated solely by the notes in the melody and rhythms played by the drum. The sax part plays the melody.
This piece was recorded in 1991 by Taimur Sullivan (sax) and Allissa Eells (piano) with funding from the American (then Minnesota) Composers Forum.
This specially commissioned work was first performed at the 1988 International Festival of the Arts in Wellington. The musical material is derived fromt he piano’s opening bar, and the resulting style combines the appealing simplicity of triadic harmonies with mathematical processes. There are three clear sections marked by the changes from flute to alto flute and back: outer sections exploiting the clarity and brilliance of the usual C flute, and a rich cantabile middle section for the larger (so deeper) alto flute where the piano provides a gentle accompaniment built on a a slowly contracting ostinato-like figure.
A sustained and challenging four movement work for solo instrument, the player switches from standard flute to piccolo for the scherzo-like third movement. Individual movements, especially the haunting second one, are sometimes played on their own, a practice approved by the composer.