A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Early works were published by Experimental Music Catalogue. This stopped trading in 1981, but is now run by Christopher Hobbs and Virginia Anderson. For information on these works contact info@experimentalmusic.co.uk

All Gavin Bryars' music is now published by Schott Music, 48 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7BB

Works not published by Schott or EMC are marked with an asterisk (*) and are unavailable for performance.

NB. All Gavin Bryars' manuscripts have been acquired by the British Library. These may be accessed through Dr. Nicolas Bell, Curator Music Collections, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Pre-1968

There are a number of works, early attempts at composition and so on, some of which were performed. List in progress…

Three no. 2 "Visions" (Mss. In Notations Collection of John Cage)

Hoyu spoke no words (Mss. In Notations Collection of John Cage)

Three no. 7

16 Fragments for solo guitar



Duration c. 40’
Instrumentation: bass clarinet, electric guitar, viola, double bass
Music for Radio programme with John Berger and John Christie
First performance: Between the Ears series, Radio 3, January 19th 2002

Note : "I send you this Cadmium Red"

"I send you this Cadmium Red"

This is a radio piece, produced by the independent company Somethin' Else for BBC Radio 3. It uses the book reproducing the correspondence between John Berger and John Christie which began when John Christie sent John Berger a single colour (Cadmium Red) and the correspondence developed from there in an increasingly elaborate way. The radio piece does this as an extended conversation to which I have written accompaniments, almost like a third voice, focusing on themes within their conversation. John Berger and I had met several times through my work with Juan Muñoz and I met John Christie for the first time when he attended the recording session in London.

The music is scored for bass clarinet/ clarinet (Roger Heaton), electric guitar (James Woodrow), viola (Bill Hawkes) and bass (myself) and the programme was broadcast in January 2002.

 



*Shorter version (omits last aria, text by Jules Verne)
Instrumentation: soprano,
2 pianos, 4 percussion
First performance: Leicester, June 1984



Unspecified ensemble, dedicated to John White.
Duration: c.20 minutes
Published in EMC Verbal Anthology.
First performance: Bluecoat Hall, Liverpool.



Music for Dance performance, choreographer Edouard Lock
Instrumentation: 2 amplified harpsichords
First Performance: Theatre de la Ville, Paris April 29th 1995



Text: Etel Adnan
Duration 9'
Dedication: Jane Quinn and Martin Duignan
Instrumentation: Soprano voice, bass clarinet, electric guitar, 2 violas, cello, bass
First Performance: Sarah Leonard and Gavin Bryars Ensemble, BBC Recording May 20th 1995 (broadcast June 4th 1995)



Duration: c.20’
Instrumentation:  Piano and string orchestra.
Not yet performed.



Text: anonymous 13th century
Duration c. 4’ each
Dedication: Anna Maria Friman
First performance: (1) Anna Maria Friman, solo recital London March 2002



Recorder consort (2 trebles, 2 tenors, 2 basses)
First performance: Ensemble directed by Evelyn Nallen,
Society of Recorder Players, Cambridge December 13 2008



Environmental piece.
Published in EMC Visual Anthology
Never performed.



Text: Edwin Morgan
Duration c.5'
Male Choir

Note : Text of A Golden Age

Text of A Golden Age

That must have been a time of happiness.

The air was mild, the Campsie Fells had vines.

Dirigible parties left soft sky-signs

and bursts of fading music. Who could guess

what they might not accomplish, they had seas

in cities, cities in the sea; their domes

and crowded belvederes hung free, their homes

eagle-high or down among whitewashed quays.

And women sauntered often with linked arms

through night streets, or alone, or danced a maze

with friends. Perhaps it did not last. What lasts?

The bougainvillea millenniums

may come and go, but then in thistle days

a strengthened seed outlives the hardest blasts.

 

Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)

 

 



Choir (SSAATTBB)
First performance, St Mary's Church, Ealing, London, 31 March 2007
The Addison Singers, cond. David Wordsworth



Text: Juan Muñoz
Duration 50’ (10 movements each of 5’)
Instrumentation: Speaking voice, string quartet
Recorded Dave Hunt Studio, London April 17th 1992

Note : Text of Programme 1

Text of Programme 1

Good evening... welcome once again to: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

As we mentioned yesterday, we are going to explain the second part of some of the most common card tricks that can be performed at a gambling table. Perhaps one of the most well-known is the apparently simple move of bottom-dealing... we say "simple" because most people who don't play cards professionally think that little skill is needed to take a card from the bottom half of the pack without being noticed... it is true that this move does not demand intensive practice, like the double-lift or certain palming operations or the Mexican three-carded... but it is important to remember that while bottom-dealing at cards, just one unnatural movement will arouse  suspicions.

Now, as on every evening... take your pack of cards... shuffle it... take out roughly half the cards... because dealing from the bottom is not usually done with a full pack... it is much easier and more effective when the pack is slimmed down... Professionals normally wait until the last rounds before dealing from the bottom.

Now, shuffle the half-pack but this time, as you are doing it, place one or more cards at the bottom of the pack... if you feel comfortable use a riffle shuffle, otherwise do a hand shuffle... then it will be enough for you to flick the cards.

If you have already fixed the bottom of the pack, let us move on to today's subject: which is dealing cards from the bottom...

Hold the pack in your left hand... but don't grip it... The middle finger and thumb will do all the work... now push the top card out a little with your thumb, as if you were offering it for your right hand to deal... at the same time, bend your ring finger backwards until the nail rests on the edge of the bottom card... don't worry - this will be hidden by the card sticking out at the top... now... force the bottom card slightly up and sideways with your thumb, pushing it out a little... the top and bottom cards will be left jutting out of the pack in the same way. The upper card will conceal the bottom one perfectly.

Pay close attention because it only takes a second... move your right hand as if to take the top card... At the moment when your right hand reaches your left, at that precise moment... pull your thumb back and draw back the top card, at the same time that the fingers of your right hand are taking the lower card... did you see?.. did you see?

Tomorrow we will teach you how to deal from the bottom in stud poker or when you are turning over a trump in bridge.

Thank you and good night.

Note : Text of Programme 2

Text of Programme 2

Good evening... welcome once again to: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

As we promised yesterday, we will explain how to perform the old and worthy trick, "El Trile", or "Three-Card". You will have noticed this trick a few times on the streets of your town centre... El Trilero, or Three Carded Man, shows three cards to his audience face up on a folding table or a cardboard box. One of them is always an ace. The cards are usually bent lengthways so that they can be easily picked up by their ends. The performer shows the three cards, one after the other, then picks them up and deals them out again... slowly... face down... on the table... in a row... one after the other...

In general we wouldn't advise you to bet, but if that is what you want to do, we will explain in tomorrow's programme how to beat the Three Carded Man.

This evening we will just tell you how the trick is done.

As on every evening, first take a pack of cards; there is no need to shuffle as we are going to use three cards... Remember that one of them has to be an ace... Take them now...

Bend them a little along the line of the card... Now put them face down on the table, one beside the other... choose one of the cards apart from the ace... now, using your right thumb and middle finger, pick it up by its ends, along the line of the card... take it gently along the line of the card and a little to the right. Now, without letting go of it, place this card exactly on top of the ace... do you remember where it is? It's easy because you only have two cards on the table... allow the two cards to touch on their left sides... and now pick up the ace with your thumb and ring-finger... do it again if you like... your right hand keeps hold of both cards... the upper card with your thumb and middle finger... the lower one... the ace... with your thumb and ring-finger... now take the third card with your left hand and pay close attention because this all happens in a flash...

Move your right hand towards your left hand, and with a slight sloping downwards throw the upper card so that it falls on the left side of the table, and then quickly return your right hand to its original position.

At the point when your middle finger is dropping the top card, it takes over control of the lower card and your ring finger stretches full out, so that when your hand comes to rest in its original position, the spectators can see that the finger that was holding the upper card is now the same as before and the finger that was holding the lower card is now free. ... The rest is easy... Move your left hand towards the right side of the table and drop its card there... move your right hand again and drop the last card between the other two.

As you will have seen, the false movement takes place when the first card is being dealt. The right hand seems to drop the lower card first, but in reality it deals the upper card... In any case, in the street you can't follow the card in question with your eyes.

Good night and thank you.

Note : Text of Programme 3

Text of Programme 3

Good evening... we present: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

This evening we are going to show the easiest and most daring solution to a problem that has been called the card player's "black hole". It is the problem of cutting.

The professional gambler knows how to fix his cards before dealing. The false riffle and the palmed top pack are just two of the many subtle tricks of the trade... But every gambler, not just a professional, can fix some cards while he is shuffling... All you have to do, as you collect the cards from the table, is remember the order of an openly-discarded hand - either the discard itself or the last cards played on the table... Fifteen or twenty seconds are then more than enough to arrange three cards as you shuffle.... If no one at the table cuts, you just have to deal from the bottom... but people do cut... at every gambling table the pack is cut after being shuffled.

Now we will explain two ways of coming out of a cut with the cards in the same order that they had when the pack was shuffled... The first method should be used if you were cutting for a companion... who is on your side... the second cut if you are gambling on your own.

Now, as on every evening, take your pack of cards... shuffle... and arrange some of the cards at the top... here is the false cut... hold the pack by the sides near the end between the thumb and middle finger of each hand... holding the lower part with your left hand and the upper part with your right... draw the bottom pack up and forward with your left hand... bring it in towards you and drop it... move your right hand up a little and slide the upper pack back on top... the moves have to be quick and clean.

Now we will explain the second method.  Take the pack again... shuffle it... lay it on the table... cut yourself as if you were going to be your own victim... good. Now pay attention to the moves because they are so simple that they need some audacity to be performed. Remember that you have to shift the cards around openly, casually and without haste. The important thing is that your movements should look quite normal.

Pay close attention... take the lower packet with your right hand... and instead of putting it on top of the other, slide it along the table up to your left hand... now, take the second pack... and put it on top in the same way...

Amazing... it's amazing.

Good night and thank you.

Note : Text of Programme 4

Text of Programme 4

Good evening... welcome once again to: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

This evening we will teach you one of the best things that can be done at a gambling table. Some people with a high moral sense use the word "tricks" to describe these subtle techniques. But we prefer to call them "artifices". We mentioned before that it is important to arrange the cards when you pick them up from the table and square the pack, even before you begin to shuffle... for example... if you gather up the pack after a round of poker where two hands have been shown... one with a pair... another with a card of the same value as the ones in the pair.... In that case a mere glance is enough for you to arrange the small pack...

You could of course leave them on top, but that wouldn't be very useful. Knowing two or three cards at the bottom of the pack is a big advantage for the expert gambler... When a professional is gambling alone, he will deal without putting the lower pack on top after the shuffle, or he will palm them while shuffling, or he may even jump a little after shuffling... what we call a "salto".

This evening we will teach you how to take the cards left on top, the ones you have arranged while shuffling and which we have referred to on other evenings as the "upper pack"... We will teach you how to shift these cards to the bottom of the pack... so that you can deal them from the bottom.

Once again, as on every evening, take your pack of cards... shuffle them... choose three cards and arrange them on an upper pack... remember that in cuts of this kind it is important for the fingers to be placed in the right position. You must cut the cards only with your thumb and middle finger... the ring fingers should be bent against the ends of the packs and the index fingers should be bent on top of the pack... so that they don't obstruct your view.

Hold the pack by the sides... near the ends... between the thumbs and middle fingers of each hand... Move the pack a little away from the table... and separate the lower pack with your right hand... drop the pack in your left hand onto the table. Now... place the pack of your right hand... on top... but this is important... keep some space between the two, until you mark a break with your right thumb... on the rim of the lower pack.

Now... apparently square it... and move it away from the table, again with both hands. Then, using your left hand, separate the pack that has remained on top of the break...  continue...separate with your left hand small packs... dropping one on top of the other... now drop the last pack... on top... with your right hand... the cards are at the bottom... Now you can start dealing...

Thank you and good night.

Note : Text of Programme 5

Text of Programme 5

Good evening... we present: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

Today we are going to show you how to sort three cards in a pack. The system we'll use is suitable for any game where the cards are dealt singly, as in poker and so many others.

A little warning before we begin... we are going to do today's programme really slowly... when we speak of a "jog" in the overhand shuffle... that card which sticks out a little... less than a quarter of an inch... from the rest of the pack... all you have to remember is that the "in-jog" is the card sticking out over your little finger, and the "out-jog" the one over your index finger.

Now decide how many players will be at the table... four is the usual number... three if you prefer.

And remember that when you shuffle and sort cards like this at the table, you have to do it without looking at the pack.

Now, as on every evening... first take your pack... do an overhand shuffle while you are arranging three cards on top... Cut approximately half the pack from underneath... set the top card at in-jog... skip two cards less than double the number of players... skip one at out-jog and shuffle the rest on top... Cut below the jog of the out-jog to make a break under the in-jog.   Now, skip one card less than the number of players... then, with your left hand, drop in one batch... all the cards that are there from the break.... Skip one... skip another at the in-jog and, mentally counting it as 'one', keep skipping until you get to one less than double the number of players... skip one at the out-jog... and shuffle the rest on top... Cut below the in-jog... and drop the pack on top.... Now listen carefully... Cut under the out-jog... Skip one less than the number of players... and now drop the rest on top...

The result is that the three cards arranged in the shuffle will go to the one who deals... for the first three rounds...

Thank you and good night.

Note : Text of Programme 6

Text of Programme 6

Good evening... once again, we present: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

This evening, as we promised, we will explain how to take a card from the bottom when you are dealing at stud poker or turning over a trump. The point is not just to take the bottom card, but to make it look as if you are taking the top one.... We will explain how a normal player turns the top card and how an expert gambler should turn the bottom card so that it looks like the top one, as if everything were being done normally. But first let us briefly recall what is perhaps the most widely used trick in the professional repertoire: Dealing from the Bottom of the Pack.

Now, as on every evening, take your pack of cards... hold it with your left hand... push the top card out a little with your thumb... as if you were offering it for your right hand to deal.... Now, press the bottom card with your thumb... force it slightly upwards and sideways... at the same time pushing it out a little... good.... Now you have two cards, the top and the bottom, sticking out from the pack in the same way,... with one subtle difference;...the upper card is perfectly concealing the lower one.

Pay close attention because it all happens in a flash... move your right hand... apparently  to take the top card... now... at that moment... do it once more... move your right hand to the left to take the card ... now slide your thumb backwards, and draw back the top card, at the same time as you are taking the bottom card...good....

How does a normal player turn a card when he is dealing at stud poker or turning over a trump...? He takes the cards from the table with his left hand... he reverses his right hand... holds the face of the cards with his fingers and the back with his thumb and... he turns the cards before they are completely separated from the pack... no... a professional never uses the reversed hand position because it would be difficult to remove the bottom card without making a sound.... The left hand does all the work... the right one just hides it.

...Square the cards again... deal the card from the bottom... move it an inch or so from the pack... now turn it over... good.

Thank you and good night.

Note : Text of Programme 7

Text of Programme 7

Good evening... we present: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

Today... following on from yesterday's programme, we will explain how to sort two cards in a pack.

A little warning before we start... we are going to do today's programme really slowly... when we speak of a "jog" in the overhand shuffle... that card which sticks out a little... less than a quarter of an inch... from the rest of the pack, all you have to remember is that the "in-jog" is the card sticking out over your little finger, and the "out-jog" the one over your index finger.

Now decide how many players will be at the table... four is the usual number... three if you prefer.

And remember that when you shuffle and sort cards like this at the table, you have to do it without looking at the pack.

Now, as on every evening... first take your pack..... Do an overhand shuffle while you are arranging two cards on top.... Cut approximately half the pack from underneath... set the top card at the in-jog... skip two cards less than double the number of players...now skip one leaving it at out-jog and shuffle the rest on top...Cut below up to the out-jog,  making a break under the in-jog... Skip one card less than the number of players...then with your left hand, drop in one batch... the cards that are there up to the break.... Skip as many cards as there are players...skip one at the out-jog... and shuffle the rest on top... Cut below the in-jog ... and finish the cut...

Now listen carefully... good luck.

In this way, the two cards arranged at the beginning... will go to the one who deals... for the first two rounds...

Thank you and good night.

Note : Text of Programme 8

Text of Programme 8

Good evening... once again, we present: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

This evening we are not going to explain how a trick is done... because every gambler knows how to give himself one or two extra cards when he is dealing... Rather we will show you how to get rid of the extra card or cards you have in your hand.

Now, as on every evening... take your pack... shuffle it... deal... and (why not?) give yourself one extra card... choose which will be your cards... now you have your hand plus one extra card.... What is to be done with that card?... I wouldn't advise you to "go west" with it; that is, drop it in your lap or hide it up your sleeve or even throw it on the pile with your own discard... that is not artistic, it's dangerous and worthy of a beginner or a bungling amateur.

Before getting rid of your card you have to "palm it"... to conceal it inside the palm of your hand... and then put it back when you take the pack to deal a second time... so let's start again... take the full pack... shuffle it... deal... and again give yourself one extra card...make your choice... and now... put the extra card on top... take your cards as you would normally do when you square the pack... Bend your thumb below the centre of the top card and flush your other fingers with the top of the cards.... Place your right hand over the cards as if merely to square them... leave your thumb at the lower left corner.... Now with your left thumb push the top card over diagonally to the right side... your right hand is covering this move...press down slightly with your right little finger and... note how the top card... the extra one... note how, as it bends, it sticks to the palm of your hand.... Hold the rest of the cards by the thumb, fore and middle fingers of your right hand... leave the rest of your cards on the table when you discard... your hands are empty.... Move your right hand towards the table; natural and relaxed... and then palm the card... now take the rest of the pack to deal a second time... remember that the top card will be dealt first... and in poker, smile inside yourself and never on the outside.

Thank you and good night.

Note : Text of Programme 9

Text of Programme 9

Good evening... once again, we present: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

We will start today's programme, if we may, with an apology. We have lost today's programme somewhere, in some little memory-pocket - or rather, we have lost the text that we intended to read but... anyway... seeing that we promised it earlier... we are going to explain the game that the courts and the police have really got it in for... the one known as the "Three Card Trick", or sometimes also as "The Mexican Row". Basically the trick is just a card-switch... a card-switch that everyone has seen at some time on their town's central streets.

Using a folding table or cardboard box covered with a cloth, the performer shows the faces of three cards and slowly lays them down in a row. He pretends to confuse the audience by moving them around on the table.... Next, by way of explaining the game, he shows the face of a card and then he turns it back over, he slips it beneath another card in such a way as to push it up until it too turns face-up. He then does the same with the third card.... We wouldn't advise you to bet, because your chances of losing are a hundred per cent. In the normal Three Card Trick that we explained last week, if the spectator bets without looking at the cards or at any of the action, the laws of probability will be two to one against him and two to one in favour of the trickster. He could conceivably break the bank.  But in this version the ace is never the card you point to, because the trickster on the other side of the table switches the card of his choice for the one you choose... and then switches that for the third card... when all he seems to be doing is turning them over.

Now let us go over it with the pack.... As on every evening, take your pack of cards... today you don't need to shuffle because we are only going to use three cards... remember that one of them must be an ace.  Take the three cards and lay them on the table... face down... one after the other... put one of them aside.... Now, take one of the two remaining cards in your right hand... hold it between the tips of your thumb and index finger, by the right side near the bottom corner with your thumb on top... slide the free side of this card beneath the right side of the card on the table, until two-thirds of it are hidden and all that is showing is one centimetre at the top end. The raised corner at the bottom of the card on the table is now resting against the tip of your middle finger... Now pay close attention... slide your thumb towards the corner of the card on the table, holding it against your middle finger... carry it a little to the right and turn the lower card with the tip of your index finger.

You mustn't show the slightest hesitation while you are doing this. When you slip the card in your hand beneath the card on the table and then turn the one in your hand as if it were the one on the table, you must do everything in a single movement.... Now, slide the card on the table under the third card... and perform the same switch.  The important thing is that you should not have any hesitation... any indecision.

Thank you and good night.

Note : Text of Programme 10

Text of Programme 10

Good evening... once again we present: 'A Man in a Room, Gambling'.

During recent evenings, we have told you about some artifices and subterfuges that you can perform at a gambling table. All we are talking about is the ability to take whatever cards, deal them out, and turn them into a winning hand....  A few times, in this short exposition on the art and science of expert card handling, we have followed the opinion of the Canadian master, S.W. Erdnase... that the professional is more in love with chance than with gambling as such.  And it is true: what mainly distinguishes the professional is that he is driven by his love of the act of gambling, while others are motivated by greed.... It is almost a rule that the beginner will win his first hand at a poker table, but will rarely have his money intact after the first hour....

Talking of cards, we have shown in these evenings how to join or separate them... and how to place them where you want while you are casually shuffling.... We have explained how to deal yourself an extra card and how to get rid of it in a natural and elegant way.... We have taught you how to do a false cut, and some of the ways of arranging cards while you shuffle.... In this programme, we are going to go over one of the routines again, though perhaps a little more briefly than we did last time.  More than any other, this is the artifice, which, if done properly, allows the professional gambler to increase his winnings so that he can then fritter them away. We are talking of dealing from the bottom of the pack.

As on every evening, take your pack... shuffle... remove roughly half the cards... because dealing from the bottom is not usually done with a full pack... it is easier and more effective when it is slimmed down.  It is a norm among professionals to wait until after the discard before dealing from the bottom... good... good.... Shuffle the half-pack again, but this time, as you are doing it, put one or more cards at the bottom of the pack....

Let's begin... hold the pack in your left hand... don't grip it tightly... your middle finger and thumb will do all the work... push the card out a little with your thumb... out, as if you were offering it for your right hand to deal... at the same time, bend your ring finger back until the tip is resting on the rim of the bottom card... don't worry... this will be hidden by the card sticking out at the top... now, push the bottom card a little up and sideways with your thumb... push upwards... notice that the top and bottom cards stick out of the pack in the same way... the top one perfectly conceals the bottom... good.... Let's continue... and now pay close attention because it all lasts a second... move your right hand as if to take the top card... and at the moment when your right hand reaches your left hand; at that precise moment... draw back your thumb and pull the top card back, while your right fingers take the bottom card.  Did you see?... did you see?...

Thank you very much for being with us.... Good night, and lots of luck.



Tape piece (1/2 Track Stereo)
Duration: c.30 minutes
First performance: Systems Art exhibition, Helsinki, 1970



Instrumentation: Indeterminate
Published in EMC Visual Anthology
Never performed.



Duration: c. 5’
Dedication: my mother
Instrumentation: organ solo
First performance: St Johns Church, Goole January 8th 1999 (mother’s funeral)



Text: Etel Adnan
Duration: 30'
Dedication: Jane Quinn and Martin Duignan
Instrumentation: Soprano voice, bass clarinet (and clarinet), electric guitar (and acoustic guitar), 2 violas, cello, bass
First performance: Valdine Anderson and Gavin Bryars Ensemble, Almeida Theatre, London, July 20th 1996

Note : Adnan Songbook (1996)

Adnan Songbook (1996)

The songs in the Adnan Songbook set a group of eight Love Poems by the Lebanese writer Etel Adnan. Etel left Beirut many years ago and now lives and works in California and Paris. I collaborated with her on Robert Wilson's large scale operatic project, the CIVIL WarS in 1984, and one aria from that opera to words by Etel, "La Reine de la Mer", forms part of my cantata Effarene. We worked together, with a number of other performers and designers, in the isolated setting of the Monastery of La Sainte Baume in the mountains above Marseilles in a bitterly cold winter.

The first of the poems to be set was the fifth one which was written for Mary Wiegold and the Composers Ensemble in 1992. The first and second, sung by Sarah Leonard, were written in 1995, commissioned by the BBC for the 'Songbook' series as part of their 'Fairest Isle' season. The remainder were commissioned by the Almeida and written in 1996 for performance by Valdine Anderson with my ensemble and she gave the first complete performance in July 1996. Since Anna Maria Friman joined my ensemble this has become a piece closely associated with her voice.

The instrumentation is a restrained one using only 6 players but with a combination of instrumental sonorities that characterise my ensemble: 2 violas, cello, double bass, electric guitar (doubling acoustic guitar) and bass clarinet (doubling clarinet). The vocal part, being for a high lyric soprano, was written for Valdine and in all cases the music is written with my own performers in mind. The bass-clarinet, for example, has long been one of my favourite instruments and I enjoy the possibility of its extreme ranges. With the electric guitar I generally prefer it to be played without attack, allowing sustained chords or melodic lines to complement those of the strings, and this grainy combination of electric guitar and low strings was one which I first used with Bill Frisell in After the Requiem (1990). The formation of the strings here provides in effect a kind of string quartet, transposed substantially downwards. For the last three songs the bass-clarinet moves to B flat clarinet, and the electric guitar changes to the classical acoustic instrument.


There are many cross-references between the songs, as there are between the poems, and three of them are extended by instrumental epilogues - viola for numbers 2 and 8, clarinet for number 6. The first two songs are played together without a break.

The Adnan Songbook is dedicated to my friends Jane Quinn and Martin Duignan.

Note : Text for The Adnan Songbook

Text for The Adnan Songbook


I.
I had a gypsy
with Indian silver
all over her body

She had a
navel like the morning star
and eyes
like the meadows
of the sierras

She was a deer
and a trail
leading to an archetypal
lake

One day the sun shone
on her hair
and the forest caught fire
only the car broke down
by the curve of
the road

And we slept on a hospital bed
to rise again
like the Indian Rainbow.

II.
The sun came in
The pain went out
a window on the lone mountain

I
became
a tree decrucified
rendered
to
its roots.

2000 years of suffering redeemed
in a woman’s two-days’
flight
from paradise to paradise
we went with no mule
nor train
but with our hands and our eyes.

III.
I went to the drugstore
to sell my pain
I got a penny and bought an Indian rug
on the grey wool
I read the footstep of
a sheep
on the black line      I followed a
trail

and we arrived at a meadow
there, only water talked
to us
we spoke of rain and fire
and the three of us
slept together
because we became the morning dew.

IV.
No one asked you to be an angel of
fear
or even of death

We only wanted your skin to be
as smooth
as the sea
an October afternoon
in Beirut, Lebanon
between two civil wars.

You came
with a handful of pain
and a smile
which broke the ground under my feet
as the earthquake does
when two people
meet.

V.
You are a white cloud
coming down my spine
fire moves its fingers along
my pain
but two black eyes remain
resolved in tears
and
the cloud becomes a song
I heard in the fog
and over the city
while you were counting
the money
for yesterday’s hospital
bed.

We are not playing a game
of sorrow
we are trying to grow
wings
and
fly.

VI.
You are under my hands
a piece of fire
which doesn’t burn itslef out,
ever

You cry with the rain
and laugh every morning
at the advent of the sun

I see you
with your cousins the deer
chase shadows
under the oak trees of the ranch

You refused a
voyage to the moon
in order to
stay
a moment more
in bed.

VII.
White as the unfolded tree
of a winter in
advance
on the sun’s decisions
you draw my naked body
on the city’s
invisible walls
and a million tiny roads
go to a single point.
White as Ophella’s pallor
you make haggard statements
so that
madness and reason be reconciled
for ever

and the warmth of your
passion
takes on
the color of frost
white as a permanent spring.

VIII.
My hand on your hand
both
in the hollow of
a tree
one sky chasing another
sky
both
devouring atoms
and
going to the moon.
Green is the color of
space.

Two lips tasting mushrooms
and the Colorado River
haunting
the village....
from the persistent Mediterranean
to the persistent
Pacific
we cut roads with our feet
share baggage and
food
running always one second
ahead of the running of
Time

we are travelling at some
infinite speed

we are not scared.



Duration: 11'
Dedication: Maggie Cole
Instrumentation: harpsichord solo
First performance: Maggie Cole, Pebble Mill, Birmingham October 4th 1995 (live broadcast BBC Radio 3)

Note : After Handel's "Vesper" (1995)

After Handel's "Vesper" (1995)

for harpsichord solo

I have written a number of works for Early Music performers such as the Hilliard Ensemble, with whom I have had a close relationship for some years, and most recently for the viol consort Fretwork, so I responded with interest to the request for a solo harpsichord piece from Maggie Cole. My first encounter with the harpsichord in a contemporary context was in 1968 when I worked as an assistant to John Cage in Illinois on his HPSCHD. My recollection of that work, and its use of chance operations, led me to the short passage in Raymond Roussel's novel Impressions d'Afrique where there is the fictional account of the blind Handel composing an oratorio,Vesper, by a curious set of chance operations involving sprigs of holly and coloured ribbons. This story drew me away from Cage's method (there is no use of chance in my piece) to 17th and 18th century keyboard music and, with Maggie's help, I became acquainted with a wide range of keyboard music and types of instruments which helped inform the writing of this piece. I was attracted to the quasi-improvisational ethos of the music of Frescobaldi for the single manual Italian harpsichord and, at the other extreme, to music written for the larger two manual German instrument. In the spirit of this music I have offered many options with ornamentation, suggesting some, writing out others completely, but also encouraging the player to use her invention and instincts to add others where not specified and generally to adopt an open approach to the piece.

After Handel's "Vesper" is dedicated to Maggie Cole.

 

 

 



Duration: 0’59”
Instrumentation: Piano duet.
First performance: Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris, 26 October 1980.



Duration: 16’
Dedicated to Bill (Frisell and Cadman)
Instrumentation: Solo electric guitar, 2 violas, cello.
First performance: studio recording (ECM Records, Rainbow Studios, Oslo, 17, 18 September 1990.
(see 1998 for subsequent version)

Note : After the Requiem (1990)

After the Requiem (1990)

I had written the Cadman Requiem in 1989 for the Hilliard Ensemble in memory of my friend and sound engineer Bill Cadman, who was killed in the Lockerbie air crash. His death affected me very deeply and, pending a recording of this piece, Manfred Eicher asked if I might like to develop an instrumental work from this, using the same instrumentation for accompaniment and retaining the same opening bars as part of a new ECM album. The piece is "after" the Requiem therefore in the musical sense of being based on it, in the chronological sense of following on from it, and in the spiritual sense of representing that state which remains after mourning is (technically) over. I wrote the piece in Venice in September 1990 and finished it in Oslo on the day of the recording, where I added the electric guitar of Bill Frisell. This, I felt, blended particularly well with low strings (originally 2 violas and cello; in live performance sometimes viola, cello and bass). Coincidentally, having used certain distortion effects on the guitar, we found that we were recording on the twentieth anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix. Within the music I use one or two modified extracts from the Cadman Requiem itself, and from its common source Invention of Tradition, for which Bill Cadman had done the sound design.

The piece is dedicated to the two Bills (Cadman and Frisell).