solo cello, 2007. 8 minutes.

So much of the music of our culture is polished, like fine silver – but in this instance I was drawn to working instead with an image something like a woven cloth, woven with rough wool, uneven threads, rich in foreign and exotic colours, hairy, soft but itchy, smelling of lanolin.

Though it’s a simple melody, the ornaments obscure any lightness there, and the piece is essentially about this ornamentation. The mode it uses is softer than an equal tempered scale, having no minor seconds but rather a combination of whole steps and “neutral seconds” (¾ tones).

For the material of the coda we can return to the image of polished metal – the notes are taken from the previous material more or less, but with octave displacement as per the natural harmonics of the cello. The coda is something like a westerner’s take (my take) on this exotic cloth, unraveling it, distilling its colours, reflecting on it a world away.

View the score here (version for viola)


short excerpt performed by cellist Willem Stam, Holland 2008