Vic Hoyland

20: Hey Presto!

BCMG conducted by Diego Masson. Recording of the "Farewell Vic" Concert at the Barber Institute, Birmingham, 11 February 2011.

And finally the opening pages of Hey Presto!. Written for BCMG, it grew out of a requested tribute piece for Boulez, which was performed in his presence. Boulez was the young music director for Jean Louis Barrault’s theatre company when the Genet play was realized at the Odeon, Paris. Diego Masson conducted the first performances of Hey Presto! His father, a refugee from 1930s Spain, was the painter/scene maker for this same Company and the young Diego became a favoured percussionist with Boulez’s various ensembles, starting with Domaines Musicales. Amazing for me! Hey Presto! is based on the 1948 film, made by and centring on JLB: “Les Enfants du Paradis”.

I have some copies of the 13 pieces for Joan Dixon, hot off the press from Composers Edition. No. 7 is also printed in a sampler volume of various composers belonging with CE and this also is just recently published.

I propose to give brief explanations of maybe half of these short pieces. Each one does something specific to explain some aspects of my technique. I propose to compose a further volume of more difficult and longer pieces: 8 more, in all.

(Play Piano pieces 1 2 3 6 7 9 11 12 13, depending. No 14 is part of a 2nd, more complex volume – 24 pieces in all). Circa 2 minutes +/- each piece.

In these pieces I employ the 2 M levels, on B and C sharp. I try one further step up (3M) the whole tone ladder, on D sharp/E flat. And I’m wondering if I should continue the procedure; whole tone spans feature when I double the pitch value and they also appear pared (producing 6 tones) as shown on the Modulor page. When I calculated down into quartertones, I was surprised to find that the whole Modulor construction (using both the red and blue measures), after an initial crush, reduces to near enough a whole tone run, before spanning to more nearly whole tone combinations. There are aspects of spectral-ism that interest me, following through on this aspect. I had looked at the tables provided by IRCAM but was confounded by how much information came off my initial chord. This recent observation could be a way for me to take a further step. However, already the top note of a piano sounds metallic, like tin to me (so, for example, I’ve used a whole set of triangles at the end of Qibti to suggest a further dimension. Orchestral players find it near impossible to pitch such specific intervals. However, it means I am able to include the whole tone scale when needed (as in no 3). I can now revisit the spectral domain, which appears to reveal further near-whole tone aspects, and ask the next “What if?” Dimitris Andrikopoulos - one of my many postgraduate students now professionally active in music -has just asked to help me do this work when I visit Porto, at the beginning of May.

Now to the 13 short pieces for piano...