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Ornamentik Opus IX

60.5 x 80 cms

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Composers Ensemble, John Woolrich conductor 1993

Ornamentik was written and drawn at the request of the American trombonist Stuart Dempster who asked for a piece that would suggest, within the character of a sustaining instrument, various provocative challenges to corner him into inventing new sounds or techniques.

Of the other scores (excluding IRMA) Ornamentik has proved the most durable. Although at its first performance in the Cheltenham Festival (1969) it was described by the critic of the Daily Telegraph as providing him with 'the most boring fifteen minutes of my life' (little did he know what the eighties would bring his way) I find it as tense to play in as it hopes to be soothing to hear.

Transcription from score

ON THE PERFORMANCE: the piece may last any length of time. The piece consists of a held, sustained or otherwise maintained note, chord or sound, which is decorated (ascertainable time intervals) by brief ornamental flourishes derived from the symbols opposite, each ornament to be played once only. Where there is more than one player, the ornaments should be shared out more or less equally between the performers; any instruments or sound-sources may be used. As far as possible the ornaments should be read from left to right, with vertical alignment indicating simultaneity. Melody instruments or simple sources of sound may be augmented to cope with this. The ornaments may if necessary be adapted. The held sound is implied by the horizontal band which appears at either side of each ornament. Octave or timbre may change as well as dynamic, basically mp with a range between pp and mf: such changes can only take place at the end of an ornament. The piece should begin and end with the same timbre, octave etc.

note: the colour given to the ornaments in this score is that suggested by William Gardiner (The Music of Nature, London 1832) to signify the trombone playing mp (cl pp. 189-90).

USE OF GAPMAP: occurrence of ornaments can be plotted with reference to the gapmap below. It can also be used, optionally, and ad. lib. for any other measurements that the piece seems to call for. Taking the top band, the: player makes any position along the line above as the starting point sixteen* verticals excluding that at the starting point should be counted to the right. The number of units occupied by the lines is then counted: the time the piece is to take is divided by this number. This gives the relative positions of the ornaments. The sixteenth line marks the end of the piece. Other players take lower bands and the same starting point; they also share the first player's point of ending. Any lines left over in such cases should be ignored, the held note to be continued to the end. When equal sharing of ornaments is impossible, the reader of the top band takes the one left over * i.e. when there is one performer. When more than one player, each counts his allotted no. of ornaments plus one: as in the example for two players which follows:-

EXAMPLE: Two players to give a 10 min performance. A takes 8 ornaments, B, 7. A starts at 90, reads 9 verticals to 110: 20 units, each 30 secs. A's first ornament occurs after 2 mins. B takes the second band and also starts at 90. His first ornament occurs after 30 secs, his last after  6 minutes. He then plays his initial sound for the remaining 4 minutes of the piece.