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In 1994 I kept a musical diary. At the time I had been in Slovenia for a year and, being a saxophonist myself, I was practising the saxophone most days but did not have a lot of contact with other musicians. Perhaps it was natural that this diary took the form of a rather inward looking set of pieces for solo saxophone. The result was a set of pieces concerned equally with saxophone technique (more specifically, with my own technical explorations at the time) and the compositional problems that I was then concerned with.
The saxophone techniques employed will be obvious at first listening. They include multiphonics (especially the filtering of multiphonics), quarter tones, an extended pitch range and an extended palette of dynamics and articulations.
As a composer, I was working on a graphic system for notating dynamics, which allowed dynamic “shapes” to be much more structurally significant in my music. New notations were also employed for microscopic pitch changes and for rhythm. The organisation of pitch is an ongoing concern for most composers and each of the pieces in this collection reflects a slightly different approach to this problem. Some of the solutions worked out here were later applied to larger scale pieces. The use of silence is another area that has often attracted my attention. In the third piece of this collection I have tried to “foreground” silence by introducing an alternative element as the “ground” of the piece.
Apart from these compositional concerns there is the central problem of building form with sound, which is particularly acute when writing for a single instrument. I have tried to avoid linear formal processes, preferring to disperse the unfolding of events, often resulting in a kind of spiral motion where a variety of elements are developed more or less simultaneously.
Six short pieces