I wrote recently about the tidal surges on the Suffolk coast. The charcoal drawings that I made whilst on residency at Snape in retrospect seem to describe the same river-like form undergoing a series of contortions.
Over this week, the Elysian Quartet and I have used them as a series of score cards to guide an improvisation.
After my initial visit to Snape Maltings, Suffolk, I began, over the winter, to work on a number of ideas that could be realised in a musical performance. The first of these, ‘EA’ is a continuation of the riverine themes of ‘From Which the River Rises’ and ‘Limnology’, taking its inspiration – not from the narrow, quick rills and becks of upland Cumbria, but from Suffolk’s Alde, as it widens and slows in its estuarine stage, before unloading its burden into the sea.
As an attentiveness to local flora and fauna has become central to my work over the past few years, I also pursued this path again, making a list of species informed by my wanderings along the Alde, and books consulted thereafter, including W.M. Hind’s ‘The Flora of Suffolk’, which mentions plants growing at Snape, albeit from over a century ago.
Based on my memory of a supremely flat landscape, and one therefore in which the sky and earth seemed held in perfect balance, I narrowed the list to airborne species (ie: birds) and to rooted or rhizomatous species (ie: plants), and from these, chose five of each to work with. I then compiled a list of local and folk-names for each species, producing a text ‘score’ which can be realised simply by being read.
In order to realise this piece musically, I created a number of phrases printed on cards, to be interpreted by a group of players:
Over the past few days, the Elysian Quartet have been working with the score, creating a new piece from which the following is a brief sample: