siúil go ciúin
Piano with escapement brace (2021 -)
A series of fragments (2 so far) for piano, with escapement brace. Can be performed on their own or as a set.
Fragment 1 | 8'
Fragment 2 | 6'
Written for Ben Smith
Commissioned with funds from Komponistenes Vederlagsfond
First fragment premiered in Durham
My work with the escapement brace came from a desire to reveal the truly microtonal world of equal temperament, as perfectly expressed on a piano confined to second escapement.
Developed by Sébastien Érard in the 19th century, the repeat mechanism, with its dual escapement function, allows the performer to play the same key in rapid succession because the hammer does not have to move back to its full resting position before being reengaged. As an unintended side-effect, we are able to bypass the first stage of the mechanism by partly engaging the key silently, resulting in a very soft attack from second stage alone. The drawback is that this action can be quite cumbersome. To overcome this I developed the escapement brace, which places the instrument fully in the second stage of the mechanism, allowing you to play as virtuosically as you can on an unprepared instrument.
With the sharp edge of the attack removed, the hidden microtonal world of the imperfect fractions underpinning equal temperament is revealed. To express this clearly, the fragments of siuil go ciuin exclusively use material borrowed from other composers. When the veil of harmonic perfection has fallen, we start seeing a glimpse of the hidden microtonal world beneath.
Were other anapocryphal illustrious sons of the law
and children of a selected or rejected race mentioned?
Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn (composer), Baruch Spinoza (philosopher), Mendoza (pugilist), Ferdinand Lassalle (reformer, duellist).
What fragments of verse from the ancient Hebrew and ancient Irish languages were cited with modulations of voice and translation of texts by guest to host and by host to guest?
By Stephen: suil, suil, suil arun, suil go siocair agus suil go cuin (walk, walk, walk your way, walk in safety, walk with care).
By Bloom: Kifeloch, harimon rakatejch m’baad l’zamatejch
(thy temple amid thy hair is as a slice of pomegranate).
James Joyce | Ulysses
Ben Smith Performing fragment 1 in Durham in May 2021