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I started composing Towards the Furious Fifties soon after my trip to Stewart Island in December 2017. It is the second piece of a pair, and is supposed to follow From the Roaring Forties. Inspired by essentially the same scenery, Towards the Furious Fifties represents the increasingly harsh and rugged conditions that can be found as one ventures even further south. I got a glimpse of this on the ferry ride from Bluff to Oban; even the modern catamarans offer little protection from the fury of the Southern Ocean.
Just like From the Roaring Forties, Towards the Furious Fifties is written in 6/8, and uses 3:2 polyrhythms. One of the most striking features of this piece is the frantic bass line; the constant stream of semiquavers requires considerable speed and stamina from the right hand thumb. The second section of the piece also uses the 3:2 rhythmic figure, but its octatonic melody distinguishes it from the first theme. It conveys a sense of changeability, hopelessness, and rapid movement. The middle section that follows is almost like a variation of the first section (in the sub-dominant key). It features a virtuosic climax, which consists of a series of dramatic scales and arpeggios. The octatonic melody then reappears, before the piece is concluded with a repeat of the first section.