Starting in a field close to Melbourne’s Western Ring Road, a llama lives a placid and slightly bored existence. Absent-mindedly picking at a chain-link fence, a gap appears: the animal can fit itself through and escape its confines. After a few cautious steps, it lurches forward and runs in sudden jerks. Making its way down a grassy hillside, it reaches the freeway crash barrier. Occupants of moving vehicles begin to notice the animal: “there’s a llama!” After a few tries, it successfully vaults the crash barrier and makes it onto the road itself. Vehicles whizz by and drivers honk their horns, but the llama is enjoying its freedom too much to be affected by them. Reports begin to reach news services: we hear a radio news theme and the growing noise of the Twitterverse.
The din of chatter around Melbourne becomes overwhelming and little more than indistinguishable noise, so the llama retreats into its head and to its elated thoughts: “I’m free! I’m my own animal! This is my dream, I’m no longer bound by a chain-link fence! It’s a whole new world! There’s a smile on my face for the whole…”
SQUEAL!! Its reverie is interrupted by an SUV with an absent-minded yet aggressive driver: the vehicle has to brake extremely suddenly to avoid hitting the llama, and misses it only by inches. Police have arrived on the scene and have begun to divert traffic. The llama becomes outnumbered to a greater and greater degree: there’s one last chance for escape, one tricky path to freedom, one last high-stakes roll of the “OOH TASTYTASTYLLAMATREAT ON THEGRASSYBANK!! I LIKETASTY LL… oh damn.”
Thirty minutes later, in the same field close to the Western Ring Road, the llama is once again bored. Picking at the chain-link fence, there’s no chance of escape. The fence has been repaired, the gap closed, the llama’s life restored to its former boredom.
These five compositions were created to explore the unique harmonic essence of this most magnificent of instruments. The compositions were designed specifically for Timothy Hurd QSM, the carillon master of the Wellington War Memorial instrument in New Zealand, and for Gordon Slater, the Dominion Carilloneur for the Peace Tower situated in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Canada.
After Resonance Blues explores the Korean idea of aftertone via interval-colour resonances and string after tones (partial un-dampening, prepared bass strings) as well as a Japanese intensification structure. Both of these relate to the idea of timbre grittiness and chordal intensification structure of the twelve-bar structure/grittiness in the blues. A spacious fourth resonance, very slow, at the very opening eventually opens out into a frenetic paced fifths sequence using blues riff patterns but intermingled with an interval-colour richness at the end-time climax. An after resonance string stimulation returns at the end to mirror the beginning prepared notes. The work contains transformed elements of Korean Ritual music; the mood is tinged with lyric sadness (“blue”) in that it reflects an inner emotion over the death of a Korean friend’s father prior to embarking on the work.