Archer (Tom) Endrich

Archer (Tom) Endrich Compositions

Voice & Piano Voice + 1 Instrument/Dancer(s) Voice + Instrumental Ensemble
Keyboard Solo Instrumental Solo Instrumental Ensemble
Choral Orchestral Electroacoustic

~ Voice and Piano ~

Five Early Songs

1965 (8') Tenor & Piano

4 poems by Carl Sandburg and a Japanese Haiku are set in an early, lyrical style with resonant harmonies and colourful, vibrant timbres.

  1. Loam – In the loam we sleep, in the cool moist loam ... (Sandburg)
  2. Monotone – The monotone of the rain is beautiful ... (Sandburg)
  3. A Fence – Now the stone house on the lake front ... (Sandburg)
  4. Clouds – Clouds come from time to time ... (Haiku)
  5. Stuff of the Moon – Stuff of the moon runs on the lapping sand ... (Sandburg)

Catalogue number HGM-VP-1   [Return to List of Categories]

A Letter from Stalingrad

1969 (5') Tenor (or Baritone) & Piano

The poem of the same name by Yevgeny Yevtushenko tells the story of a Russian soldier operating in the tank division. The setting of this harrowing tale is mostly in a matter-of-fact parlando style with modal overtones.

Catalogue number HGM-VP-2   [Return to List of Categories]

Can I, Imprisoned

1969 (5') Soprano & Piano

A powerful free-style setting of a visionary text by Kenneth Boulding in praise of creation and the oneness of all things: ... as I, a member of creation, sing: the burning Oneness binding everything.

Catalogue number HGM-VP-3   [Return to List of Categories]


1981 (3') Voice & Piano

This song sets a lyric by Elisabeth Kasakoff in a style lying somewhere inbetween popular and chamber music. The text is rich in imagery of sun and sea, and the rhythmic tapping of wind-blown ropes against masts is evoked in the chorus sections. The bond between the lovers is likened to the strength of the sea and endures through all the seasons: ... and the snow mutes the sound while the sea swells beyond like the love we know.

Catalogue number HGM-VP-4   [Return to List of Categories]

Unseen Helpers

1998 (3') Voice & Piano

This song sets a poem by Hannah Krawiec that I heard her recite at a New Year's Day meditation ceremony at Avebury stonecircle. It evokes a world of Spirit all around us (When the melodies of heaven and earth Start ringing in yout ear ...) and asserts that help is to hand if you ask for what you need. The quiet, lyrical melody tries to evoke the deep experience of that ceremony.

Catalogue number HGM-VP-5   [Return to List of Categories]

To Times in Hope

1984 (11') Soprano & Piano

This is a setting of Shakespeare's Sonnet 60, which begins:

Like as the waves move towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes each changing place with that which goes before,
and ends:
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth despite his cruel hand.

Each of these powerful verses is constructed as a separate musical icon brought into relief by evocative sounds and silences. It was written as a tribute to the courage and vision of Winnie Mandela at the moment when Nelson was convicted and sentenced to decades in prison.

Catalogue number HGM-VP-6   [Return to List of Categories]

Cornish Lanes

2017 (5') Voice & Piano

This piece strives to express the sense of ancient mystery which Marilyn Warbis evokes in her poem Cornish Lanes. A chant-like melody is etched out in several different scales, while the piano part uses a variety of textures to support the poetic imagery.

It may be sung by unison choir or any voice, though it may best be suited to mezzo-soprano or baritone.

Catalogue number HGM-VP-7   [Return to List of Categories]

~ Vocal Solo or with 1 Instrument/Dancer(s) ~

The Panther

1971 (12') Soprano, Violoncello & Dancer

Rainer Maria Rilke's intense poem The Panther depicts, perhaps as an analogue of the human condition, the pacing frustration of a caged animal (a dance of strength about a centre), a deeply felt moment when it imagines that it is free, and then the return to bitter reality: ... only sometimes, when the pupil's film soundlessly opens, then one image fills and glides through the quiet tension of the limbs into the heart – and ceases.

The setting composes with the overtone series, beginning with a free use of '12-tone' technique, and culminating in a long, florid passage during which the voice weaves melismas around the tones of the rising overtone series while the violoncello descends through the same series on sustained harmonics.

Catalogue number HGM-VS1I-1   [Return to List of Categories]

Three Lyrics

1972 (10') Tenor & Violoncello

The poetry of William Butler Yeats provides the inspiration for this set of three highly florid and intensely lyrical pieces.

  1. The voice is unaccompanied for the setting of the intense first poem, He gives his beloved certain rhymes
  2. In the second piece, Friends, the violoncello accompanies the voice with a drone on the open string low C. The vocal part is based on the harmonic overtone series.
  3. Voice and 'cello are paired in duet-fashion for the third of the triology, The travail of passion, a remarkable evocation of man's spiritual dimension.

Catalogue number VS1I-2   [Return to List of Categories]


1972 (9') Unaccompanied soprano

A setting of the W.H.Auden poem of the same name, this piece weaves together melody and vocal (phonetic) sound material in an effort to express every nuance of this beautiful and poignant poetry.

Catalogue number HGM-VS1I-3   [Return to List of Categories]

Savari I

1972 (12') Male Vocalist also playing gong and girder

This very unusual work is a sound composition designed to create a sense of determination in the face of implacable external constraint.

Using a technique found in Indian music for making different rhythms audible in the same line, the vocal part begins with five simultaneous layers of the savari rhythm. These layers form successive diminutions of the same geometric progression, and vowels, consonants and vocal sound-gestures are variously linked with different rhythmic layers. Woven together into the same line, the resulting mixture of vocal ingredients produces an apparently manic sonic flow.

However, the overall structure is rigidly mathematical. As the piece progresses, the vocal layers are stripped off until only one remains. At this point the centre of the piece is reached, after which, in exact mathematical mirror, the layers are built up again, though with new and more complex vocal material. Meanwhile, gong and girder outline the web of constraint from which the speaker seeks to escape. The vocalist struggles ever more bravely as the form converges towards its final bars.

The syllabic material is inspired by The Price by W.H. Auden.

Catalogue number HGM-VS1I-4   [Return to List of Categories]

Savari II

1975 (12') Male Vocalist and 3 versatile performers

The intention here was to create mixed-media music theatre in which the music actively shapes, at least in part, the other dimensions. All necessary staging and movement instructions are built into the score so that all the timing – based on the savari rhythm – is determined by the music, and visual shapes are correlated with musical patterns.

This is a very lively work with rapid scene-frame changes, dance, story, melody and extended vocal techniques. 'Sam' and his mates pit themselves against the sinister figure of the vocalising Overseer. The inspiration for the work is e.e. cummings' rain or hail.

Catalogue number HGM-VS1I-5   [Return to List of Categories]


1976 (8') Soprano & Clarinet (Bb/Eb)

Voice and clarinet weave a rich melodic fabric in this setting of Going to meet by Elisabeth Kasakoff, which captures the subtle ambiguities of presence and absence.
going to meet
coming to meet;
invisible presence
shadow translucent
revealed and gone
but beauty seen
and treasured;
going to meet
coming to meet

These fleeting, evanescent experiences are portrayed in a musical form in which phrases constantly overlap, and variously defined harmonic shapes emerge and dissolve. The lyric style gradually evolves into a free-flowing melismatic design into which the vocal part weaves fragments of the previous texts.

All these musical patterns are further extended into abstract, semi-dance movement patterns. These are notated in the score and are performed by both the vocalist and the clarinettist.

Catalogue number HGM-VS1I-6   [Return to List of Categories]

~ Vocal Solo + Instrumental Ensemble ~

Worry Has Sown

1970 (6') Soprano, Oboe & Horn in F

This tightly-knit serial piece sets an anonymous contribution to a Quinsigamund College annual publication. The speaker wins though enormous adversities by having the courage to choose to follow a star until the dawn comes. ... The night is here. It is cold to choose a star to follow and meet the oncoming dawn.

Catalogue Number: HGM-VSIE-1   [Return to List of Categories]


1970 (20') Soprano, Violin, Clarinet (Bb) & Piano

The changing moods of the four seasons are explored in these stylistically varied settings of poetry by several Oriental masters.

Catalogue Number: HGM-VSIE-2   [Return to List of Categories]

Masque for a Nightingale

1977 (27') Soprano, Female Dancer, 2 Male Actors, Piano, Violoncello,
3 Percussionists (Glockenspiel, Suspended Cymbal and an array
of 'found' metal percussion)

A music-theatre dramatisation of Oscar Wilde's The Nightingale and the Rose, this work begins with Wilde in prison re-reading his own story. The emphasis is on the Nightingale's selfless idealism – in contrast/conflict with other attitudes. At the end of the work, Wilde is in a café along with an entourage formed by the characters in the story, and all the attitudes expressed in the story begin to take on a real-life aspect.

Masque for a Nightingale is written as a music-theatre piece which thoroughly integrates spoken text, dramatisation, dance, song and sound. A proportional durational structure undergirds this integration.

This is a wide-ranging piece inspired by the Renaissance masque. There is a lot of scope for theatrical production and it provides a challenging lyric role for the soprano.

Catalogue number HGM-VSIE-3   [Return to List of Categories]

The Imperishable Stars

1981 (18') Soprano, Guitar, Clarinet (Bb/Eb) – semi-staged

The stars directly above the Earth's axis do not appear to move and are therefore referred to as 'imperishable'. They are symbolic of man's 'still centre' in and through which we can discover the miracle of our true self. Similarly, the Earth's life-favouring environment is a miraculous combination of many events and forces. The miracle of Earth and man is here placed in the vast context of cosmic evolution. –

An infinitesimal force
Has gathered in infinite time
Silken threads of dust
Into a vortex of suns.
– a context in which our own civilization may have unknown roots in remote antiquity and it may even be possible to discover a civilization older than the Earth itself. Such discoveries would of course enormously and forever alter our view of ourselves, our world and the cosmos: ... I dissolve into a future predating the past.

The text for this composition was written by Archer Endrich, with fragments from the ancient Unas texts (inscribed on the walls at Saqqara) concluding each stanza. Musically, it is one of his works most directly influenced by Egyptian culture and the maqam technique of Arabic music. The guitar part is modelled on virtuoso 'oud styles (the Arabic lute).

The original production included models of several Egyptian symbols: a star boat (travel among the stars), an ankh (life), a djed column (central axis), and a was scepter (destruction). To symbolize stellar navigation, it also used a precision gyroscope loaned by Sperry Marine, which (amazingly) continued to rotate during the entire duration of the piece.

Catalogue number HGM-VSIE-4   [Return to List of Categories]

~ Keyboard Solo ~


1969 (10') Piano solo

A serial work in which the sonata idea is realised by the presence of two strongly contrasting 'themes', one vigorous and fearlessly dissonant, the other more lyric, drawn from pentatonic material.

Catalogue number HGM-KS-1   [Return to List of Categories]

Prelude & Fugue

1971 (6') Organ solo

The bold thematic material of the prelude returns after a long, cumulative development of the fugue – a fugue in which the episodes weave shadowy undulations into the fabric of the music.

Catalogue number HGM-KS-2   [Return to List of Categories]

Harpsichord Suite

1974 (30') Harpsichord solo

This is a virtuoso solo piece in four movements, each drawing upon the Gregorian chant of the Liber Usualis as source material and realising a distinctive musical fabric by very different technical means. It reflects AE's early studies in the melodic structure of the Gregorian chant of the Sarum Antiphonary, studies which led to the bias towards deeply woven melodic structures in his music. This piece might best be presented by amplifying the harpsichord.

  1. Commovisti, Domine, Terram (1972, 4'20"). The image of God shaking the Earth as found in the Tract for Sexagesima Sunday is captured by tumultuous movement contained within a stable, unyielding framework.
  2. Chorus Novae Jerusalem (1971, 9'20"). This movement is written as a serial composition, but the material is drawn entirely from the melodic phrases of the original chant used at Vespers on Low Sunday.
  3. Venite Exultemus Domino (1974, 7'45"). A monody in vertical diminution technique in which each section derives from the melodic phrase which sets a key word in each verse of Psalm 94.
  4. Beata (1974, 8'45"). Varied embellishment patterns are woven around an identical 5-note symmetrical shape derived from the Christmas Respond setting of the word 'beata'.

The Harpsichord Suite is published by Edition Eulenburg (GM 785) and also available from HGM. It was first performed by Paul Nicholson.

Catalogue number HGM-KS-3   [Return to List of Categories]


1981 (70') Piano solo

This cycle of twenty-seven short pieces progresses through a very broad stylistic spectrum by systematically altering the relationship of melodic and harmonic formal structures. Schenkerian analysis studies musical structures from the point of view of concepts such as 'harmonic prolongation.' This piece was inspired by such ideas but uses them in a reverse manner to compose rather than analyse: realising a wide variety of (sometimes traditional) formal relationships while using contemporary harmonic sonorities. The harmonic structures are complemented by melodic ones as delineated in Bence Szabolci's A History of Melody.

The result is a series of succinct and subtly varying compositions, each of which is a precise realisation of one of a series of musical relationships. These relationship configurations occur as the melodic dimension gradually becomes aurally distinct from the harmonic starting point of the cycle, and then gradually re-absorbs the harmonic dimension into itself. The cycle ends with a monody which recapitulates all the forms of variation technique used previously.

Each piece uses a different hamonic basis, so that the various musical relationships, many of which are recognised as those used in historical musical forms, are recreated in an original and contemporary harmonic context, usually richly colourful. The past history of music is seen through a contemporary lens, as it were, making this set of clear, precise and often lyrical musical statements a unique introduction to the creative genius of past centuries. As each piece strives to express its configuration in the simplest possible terms, many of the pieces are technically easily accessible, making the cycle a useful teaching tool, but the full cycle constitutes a concert work demanding a broad musical understanding coupled with a precise and flexible keyboard technique.

Published by Edition Kunzelmann (GM 904) and also available from HGM. Also available on CD from HGM, performed by Dorothea Law.

Catalogue number HGM-KS-4   [Return to List of Categories]

Satellite N-6 Orbit 26099

1985 (40') Yamaha DX7 Keyboard Synthesizer solo

The piece uses sound presets designed by the composer.

Satellite is named after the weather satellite and its orbit which photographed the massive storm which enveloped the whole of Britain on 9 July 1985 in a Catherine wheel of spiralling cloud and lightning. The music depicts the storm itself, from its first electric beginnings to its powerful, explosive conclusion. Immense lightning bolts were photographed striking earthwards north of York, England by John Greenwood, and later that night York Minster's south transept was enveloped in flame and smoke.

John commissioned the music to accompany an exhibition of his photographs taken on that fateful night, and Satellite is best performed wth his photographs on display. This display includes a photo of the storm as taken by the weather satellite itself, and an unforgettable image of the burning Minster taken by the Pick Press Agency.

Satellite is written with many contemporary notations, such that it is semi-improvised, and every performance will be different.

Catalogue number HGM-KS-5   [Return to List of Categories]

~ Instrumental Solo ~

Adagio for Solo Guitar

1967 (5'30") Acoustic Guitar

Combining a gentle expressiveness with lyric intensity, this early composition for classical guitar shows many of the characteristics which continue to evolve in Archer's work.

Catalogue number HGM-IS-1   [Return to List of Categories]


1984 (ca 3') Violin solo

This is a gentle, flowing piece lightly embellishing an unfolding pattern of underlying tones.

Catalogue number HGM-IS-2   [Return to List of Categories]


1986 (40') Alto Saxophone solo

My melodic studies over the previous 14 years are drawn together in this tour de force for solo alto saxophone. The music strives after that combination of simplicity and melodic richness which so distinguishes the Gregorian, Indian and Arabic melodic achievements. These have been a constant source of inspiration throughout my composing career. The whole piece is made from four adjacent notes, evolved through a comprehensive set of changing internal relationships in a scale-mode close to the Tunisian-Arabic hijazi maqam.

The tonal/timbral flexibility of the saxophone is used to its utmost, so that sounds and motifs of an electro-acoustic character are also woven into the music.

Several computer programs were written by the composer to help develop the piece. One explored combinations of key gestural features of sound and resulted in a set of 12 sonic gestural types which were used in the piece. Another permutated the initial set of 4 notes in such a way that the first note of each set began with the last note of the previous set. This resulted in an overall shape which described two large arcs and returned to the first note of the piece. Having defined a matrix of 40 different combinations of melodic formal components, another computer program written by the composer generated random permutations of this matrix, thus challenging him to put together many previously untried combinations.

The final composition was realised on paper, frequently using the extended notations familiar in contemporary music. The overall effect is that of a folk hero's epic journey through rver-changing and uncharted landscapes.

First performed by Richard Ingham and available on CD.

Catalogue number HGM-IS-3   [Return to List of Categories]

Summer's Day

2011 (ca 3') Alto saxophone solo

This short, lyric piece embellishes and extends a repeating head-motif. It includes 'gently rocking' sections based on the rhythm of wood-pidgeon coos.

Catalogue number HGM-IS-4   [Return to List of Categories]

~ Instrumental Ensemble ~

Derivations on a Theme by Edgar Curtis

1971 (8') Trumpet in C & Trombone

Edgar Curtis had a rare capacity to nourish nascent talent and proved to be a defining influence in the evolution of Archer's career through his profound ability to understand and communicate the nature of musical form as a dynamic process. This piece was written in response to an exercise to continue and complete a piece, starting with a few bars of thematic material which Edgar composed. His theme is a lively and witty 6/8; this idea is continued, and then contrasted with more intense material in a series of dialogues.

Published by Edition Kunzelmann (GM 235) and also available from HGM.

Catalogue number HGM-IE-1   [Return to List of Categories]

Sonata a Due

1979 (6') Baroque Flute & Harpsichord

The respective roles of the two instruments change over the course of the four movements of this composition. In the first movement, the flute is static, playing sustained tones against a dynamic flux of notes issuing from the harpsichord. The two instruments engage in various types of dialogue during the two inner movements, and in the climactic final movement the flute part becomes increasingly intricate while the harpsichord maintains prolonged harmonies with bursts of chordal tremolo.

Catalogue number HGM-IE-2   [Return to List of Categories]

Corona Quintet

1979 (25') Brass Quintet: 2 Trumpets in C, Horn in F, Trombone & Tuba

This work creates a large-scale musical form rooted in the ancient melodic technique of maqam which evolves along with aspects of early Renaissance cantus firmus and Elizabethan divisions variation. A melodic shape grows from melodic fragments, and then the music gradually develops increasingly intricate lines and contrapuntal overlays. Mutes are used extensively, and harmonic and timbral features grow along with the ever-richer melodic surface, reaching virtuosic dimensions which challenge the brass players to the utmost.

After a long and gradual development, the music reaches a powerful, blazing climax from which it cascades downwards, concluding with a softer, lyric restatement of the basic melodic shape.

This piece was written for New Brass with funds from the Midland Arts Association.

Catalogue number HGM-IE-3   [Return to List of Categories]

Variations on 'The Grand Old Duke of York'

1980 (7') 10 or more flutes (or clarinets) & 2 percussionists

This piece is designed for players who have attained varying levels of performance ability. It can be played with any number of flutes and has been successful as an ensemble piece for mixed ability groups (grades 3 to 5). The 10 parts are divided into two symmetric choirs, with parts 1 to 5 in each decreasing in difficulty. The image of the 'grand old Duke' leading his men up and down the hill conjures up the potential for confusion in any group endeavour, and the music portrays this confusion in various ways. At the beginning, the thematic material slowly evolves out of its constituent fragments, then, after a moment of clarity (statement of the theme), confusion returns with a series of simultaneous fast/slow, up/down, and varyingly fragmentary textures.

Catalogue number HGM-IE-4   [Return to List of Categories]

Chrysalis I

1982 (14') Flute & 2 Violas

AE's studies in melodic structure led to a keen appreciation of variation technique. In this piece three different approaches to variation are applied to the same material:

The result is a lyric piece with subtly changing textures. Because based on internal, structural differences worked out within a consistent (contemporary) style, the contrasts are unobtrusive, and the music possesses an unusual plasticity and quiet sense of freedom. Like a chrysalis, things change below the surface and emerge later, transformed.

Catalogue number HGM-IE-5   [Return to List of Categories]


1982 (15') Violin & Piano

This composition combines a number of structural features in an extraordinary technical tour de force. The driving momentum comes from the violin part which steadily unfolds a form of raga over twelve notes. One note at a time is released, but once released the previous note(s) then enter into the melodic fabric; thus the richness of the melodic line gradually increases.

Simultaneously, and drawing upon the same 12 notes, the piano evolves a triple fugue in which each theme of the fugue is based on successive four-note groups of the twelve, and each theme is worked out within the context of different harmonic system:

The three forms of harmonic organisation coupled with the intricate raga create a piece of elaborate formal complexity which unfolds steadily and inexorably towards its virtuosic conclusion.

Catalogue number HGM-IE-6   [Return to List of Categories]


1984 (16') Saxophone Quartet: Soprano, Alto, Tenor & Bass

In three movements, Lifelines was written as a portrait of my Russian father-in-law, Paul Kasakov (1900 – 1981).

Catalogue number HGM-IE-7   [Return to List of Categories]

~ Choral ~

No One has Ever Seen God

1969 (4') SATB

A canonic contrapuntal composition with long, elegant melodic lines, using serial technique in a particularly clear and expressive manner. The piece sets John 1:18: No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father's heart, who has made him known.

Catalogue number HGM-C-1   [Return to List of Categories]


1975 (21') SAATBB, 6 to 24 voices

A large-scale vocal work, Intercommunications depicts in an abstract manner the various stages of an intense discussion. The vocal part comprise phonemes derived entirely from the single word which forms the title of the composition. Optional movement patterns which the chorus can perform are meant to project the musical shapes and emotional substrata into the visual dimension.

Musically, the piece uses various types of contrapuntal technique drawn from the whole range of Western musical styles. The melodic lines feature embellishment formed out of the underlying linear structures, mostly by the application of vertical diminution technique.

Catalogue number HGM-C-2   [Return to List of Categories]

Tractatus Dance

1977 (12') 8 Voices, male &/or female

This is a dance piece in which the vocal part is musicalised speech realised by the dancers themselves. It is inspired by the simplicity and elegance of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-philosophicus. The text is realised by associating the musical parameters of pitch, duration and amplitude with the true/false triads of the Tractatus. The results are applied to 8 texts from the Tractatus, culminating with What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence – implying the presence of deeper dimensions of reality than can be expressed within the framework of a 'logical-rationalistic' mode.

Catalogue number HGM-C-3   [Return to List of Categories]

The Watchers' Orbit

1986 (17') TTBB & 2 Yamaha DX7 Synthesizers

Written in 1986, when Halley's comet returned once more, this piece takes the imaginative point of view that the comet is an observation device which impersonally records a fragment of earth and human history as it passes over. Six visits of the comet are depicted, encapsulating 6 key historical vignettes. These are depicted by utilising a musical style, text and language appropriate to each respective period and locale:

  1. Our first glimpse is in 250 BC and we observe Aristarchos of Samos speaking in Greek, saying that the earth revolves about the sun, and that the ratio of sun:earth diameters lies between 19:3 and 43:6: tan de gan peripheresthai peri ton halion ....
  2. It's 141 AD and we observe Ptolemy speaking in Greek, commenting on how the location of the head of a comet in the zodiac and the direction in which the tail points predict future misfortunes: delousas de dia men ton tou zodiakou ....
  3. A scene in 607 shows us the angel Gabriel using Arabic to summon Mohammed to his mission:  Iqra' bismi rabbika l-ladi ....
  4. In 1066, Bede writes in his Anglo-Saxon Chronicles about a a sign in the heavens as no man ever before saw ... and shortly after, earl Tostiq came from beyond the sea: swyle tacen on heofenum gesewen swylce nan man aer ne ge seah. ... sona peraefter com Tostiq eorl in fram begeonde sae.
  5. The next observation is made in the Renaissance period. In 1531 we hear Copernicus speaking in Latin, saying that the earth revolves annually in a great circle about the sun in the order of the (zodiacal) signs: ...in orbe magno, quo solem ambiens secundum signorum successionem anno revolvitur....
  6. Finally, in 1986, we pick a news item in Sky & Telescope in which Owen Ryan is reported trying to focus world attention on this single celestial event (the return of the comet), such that we see ourselves as Earth citizens instead of Soviet or American, Arab or Jew, polar bear or penguin.
The Watchers' Orbit clearly illustrates Archer's trans-cultural and trans-stylistic, integrative artistic position, as well as the scope of his interests: in language, ancient wisdom, the broad scope of history, and in electronically generated sound. The vocal part can be realised by male chorus or by 4 soloists. The score materials include the DX7 parameter settings for the sounds used in the piece. These are also described verbally so that they could be approximated on another type of synthesiser.

Addendum (1999): "The Egyptian word for 'divine being' or 'god' was NTR, which meant 'one who watches'. Significantly, that is exactly the meaning of the name Shumer: the land of the 'ones who watch'." (Zecharia Sitchin, The Twelfth Planet, Avon Books, 1976, p.84).

Catalogue number HGM-C-4   [Return to List of Categories]

~ Orchestral ~


1974 (23') 2222, 2222, 8 Percussionists, Str I/II, Soprano solo & 2 conductors

An amoeba is a micro-organism which changes shape freely as it surrounds and ingests its food. The idea of ingesting a wide variety of materials forms the basis of this piece. Its form is an 'evolution through a symmetry'. The 'evolution' pertains firstly to the wide variety of structures which the piece uses, and secondly to the way in which the return of each corresponding section in the symmetric form is always in a developed state. The 'symmetry' introduces balance around the still-point of the delicate solo song at the centre of the form (love tumbles downhill between generations – Wm Gibson), while the 'evolution' takes in much of the musical and social contrasts of our century.

Amoeba's text-collage has been assembled by the composer. It expresses a double critique of Marxist and Christian attitudes, bringing out both common ground and differences. The moral force of socialist ideals challenge the listener, but so do the personal values to which the Judeo-Christian tradition is committed. The latter is criticised insofar as it has succumbed to an authoritarian theism and lost track of its professed historical involvement modelled on Christ's life of service. The former is criticised for a rationalist dogmatism which finds altogether too many justifications for devaluing and oppressing the individual.

The presentation of the piece is dramatically theatrical. One of the conductors has an acting and speaking role (as well as doing some conducting!). He is struggling towards achieving personal identity and coherence in the midst of the vast, conflicting forces which surround him. The orchestral players have much to do, with speech and singing woven into their parts. Lighting and props enhance the presentation with additional effects.

Amoeba was written for the University of York orchestra and was first performed in 1974. Graham Treacher was the main conductor, Roger Marsh was the conductor with acting role, and soprano soloist was Melody Lovelace.

It is recorded on Apollo Sound 1021 (vinyl).

Catalogue number HGM-O-1   [Return to List of Categories]


1982 (9') 2 Flutes, 2 Clarinets, Cornet, Trumpet, Horn in F (solo),
Trombone, Guitar, Violin, Violoncello, & 11 Percussionists

Lift-Off celebrates the launching of the first rockets to pull free of Earth's gravity. It was written for young players, with two versions, one for Junior School (to age 11) and one for Secondary School (to age 16). It features two main textures: strong rhythmic sections in which the pitched instruments all play the same note, and sections in which a melodic line slowly unravels, symbolising the movement outward into space.

At first the various phrases of the melody are all played simultaneously, evoking the smoke and flame of lift-off. Then the phrases become longer and longer, just as the shapes visible on Earth expand from coastline to continent to the whole Earth itself, silhouetted against the blackness of space. This visual phenomenon, now familiar to us, is aptly described in texts at least, and probably considerably more than, 4000 years old. See:

See, my friend, how the land appears!
Peer at the sea at the sides of the Mountain House:
The land has indeed become a mere hill,
The wide sea is just a tub!

My friend,
Cast a glance at how the Earth appears!
The land has turned into a furrow ...
The wide sea is just like a bread-basket ...

As I glanced around,
the land had disappeared;
and upon the wide sea
mine eyes could not feast.

[Epic of Etana – Sumerian, Tr. Z. Sitchin?
Divine Encounters, Avon Books, pp. 118-119]

The piece ends with a solo French horn playing through the whole melody against a background of timbral effects: portraying the human spirit moving into the vast emptiness of space. This horn part was written specially for Gareth Overton, who was then a very young and very brilliant player raised in North Yorkshire's brass band tradition.

The piece was commissioned by Betty Lloyd with the support of the York & Humberside Arts Council, and the first performance of the Junior school version was superbly given by the Tadcaster County Primary School orchestra, for which it was written. The first performance of the Secondary school version was given by the Cornwall County Youth Orchestra, conducted by Graham Tracher.

Catalogue number HGM-O-2   [Return to List of Categories]


1984 (13') 2 Flutes, Alto Saxophone, Trumpet in Bb, Trombone, Electric
Lead Guitar, Violin, Violoncello & 4 percussionists playing
30+ instruments and sound effect devices

The amazing and versatile soundtracks of Hollywood cartoons form the inspiration for this piece. In their direct and accessible way they have contributed far more to the development of sound composition in our time than is often realised. When someone worries about the use of sound in contemporary music, AE often advises them to put on a cartoon, 'darken the picture and just listen!' In Cartoon interactions of pitch and timbre take place in rapidly changing textures and moods to form a wild and woolly evocation of the mad and very passionate world of cartoon characters.

Catalogue number HGM-O-3   [Return to List of Categories]

~ Electroacoustic ~


1971 (9') Dancer & 2-channel electronic tape

Composed with the VCS3 Synthesiser, this divertimento alternates sonorous ringing textures with waves of filtered noise. The dance part is best realised with a light, humorous scenario.

Catalogue number HGM-E-1   [Return to List of Categories]

The Burial of the Moon

1974 (20') Bass Clarinet, 2 actors, 2-channel electronic tape,
with slides of the first moon landing and of crystals in moon rocks

This music theatre piece is set on a starship many parsecs from Earth. Its mission is to map previously unexplored star systems. The Captain of the starship finds herself at odds with one of her officers, who begins to succumb to nostalgia for Earth and to worry about Earth's social and economic problems. The instrumental soloist portrays this officer, while the second actor serves as his double, echoing his inner thoughts – poetry (text collage of famous quotes) about Earth and Moon mixed in with statistical data about economic and social problems. The tape adds sound effects and harmonic support, while the theme of exploration is depicted by a series of slides taken on the first Apollo moon landings.

Catalogue number HGM-E-2   [Return to List of Categories]

Savari III

1978 (13') Tuba solo & 2- or 4-channel electronic tape

The tuba establishes itself as a strong personality with its long, slowly evolving opening solo passage. At its climax the tape part enters, equally strong, bristling with explosive sounds, which move, in its 4-channel form, horizontally and diagonally across the performance space. The instrumentalist and tape parts seek a rapprochement against a backdrop of accumulating gong sounds, and gradually a common harmonic basis is revealed.

The whole piece is organised in the savari durational pattern based on the geometric series (2-4-8-16 ...), as described by Daniélou in his studies of Indian music.

Catalogue number HGM-E-3   [Return to List of Categories]

Crossing the Dark Rift

2003 (30'22") Computer music soundscape on audio CD, including 'Quetzalcoatl's Journey', a 16th c. text set to music and sung by soprano, Angela Ward. NEW: 2009 DVD version (32'03'') with video-slide presentation accompanying the music.

This piece was commissioned by Pat Warrington to serve as an atmospheric soundscape to accompany her exhibition of incredible sculptural textiles, 'The Mystery of the Maya'.

The music is inspired by and designed to evoke a mixture of night sky and rain forest, order and mystery, to complement Pat's astonishing fabric art. The music seeks to do this in several ways:

The music for the Tzolkin cycle focuses on the celestial sphere, the intense awareness the ancients had of the night sky and all it contained. It realises this by creating cycles of 13 generic celestial shapes, which repeat with a considerable amount of variation.

The music for the Haab cycles develops an 'Earth Narrative', moving from primeval times through to the Classic Mayan Period of Lord Pacal of Palenque, and then into more recent times. The song is part of the 2nd cycle. It begins "Wind [i.e., Quetzalcoatl], the Earth is sick from silence ..." and recounts the journey of Quetzalcoatl to the realm of the Sun in order to secure some musicians with whom to relieve Earth's silence.

The title, Crossing the Dark Rift, refers to a theory put forward by John Major Jenkins, namely that the Maya knew about and could calculate the time at which the path of the Sun (the 'ecliptic') crosses the galactic equator of the Milky Way. You can go to his website (http://alignment2012.com) for more information about his theories. Besides illustrating their profound (scientific) astronomical knowledge, this cosmic location and event is part of a complex mythology and evocative of many mysteries, so it seemed suitable as a focus for my composition.

My composition pays homage to a level of precise knowledge and understanding that becomes more astonishing in its scope, depth and human wisdom the more we find out about Mayan culture.

Available on CD and DVD.

Catalogue number HGM-E-4   [Return to List of Categories]

Last updated: 15 August 2017