Tui is based on calls from birds, recorded in Dunedin in 2003 by University student Vicki Payne. The composer helped to transcribe some calls, and was inspired to draw on these when Bridget Douglas commissioned him to write a short piece. The work uses a variety of special effects, influenced to some degree by the Tui. It has a quirky character with rapid ideas juxtaposed with moments of silence. Douglas premiered the work during a New Zealand tour in 2004, and recorded it for Trust Records late in that year.
Composed in 2004 (when text messages via mobile phone was still a relatively recent convention), this piece explores the possibilities of this form of everyday, personal communication. “Talking” via limited text characters disrupts conventional notions of time and conversational pace and leads communication towards a more stilted and abbreviated language. This still evolving language is characterised by the shortening of words through the removal of vowels, the running together of words and the omission of conventional punctuation. Punctuation takes on a more expressive role within the text acting as a form of language in its own right.
Despite operating at a level in which only the barest elements of communication are available (including the absence of important visual and aural cues) text messages often find a way around these limitations and can be witty, warm and deeply emotional form of immediate connection that challenges the conventions of the spoken or written word.
In this work, the 2 instruments match one another, pace for pace and mood for mood as they ‘talk’. The music is not intended to be a deliberated evocation of text messaging, but some of the unique aspects of the text message inform the musical language of the piece.
txt msgs was commissioned by 175 East and is dedicated to Gretchen La Roche and Ingrid Culliford.