Hayes, Morgan: Slippage. Rental
Full score and instrumental material
Commissioned for the State of the Nation Festival by the London Sinfonietta
1st perf: London Sinfonietta, Martyn Brabbins (cond), State of the Nation weekend, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 10 April 1999
Duration: 8 minutes
For flute, oboe, clarinet, piano, viola, cello and double bass
A new composition may originate by many different routes. In my case, a word and its related ideas often form the trigger to release a range of meanings and associations that mysteriously feed into the piece. “Slippage” was such a word in the case of this seven-minute composition, bringing to mind the following themes:
- Walter Benjamin’s use of the word to denote the transfer of geological or ecological terminology to describe things in the urban world (the petrified, frozen or obsolete inventory of cultural fragments spoke to him like fossils or like plants in a collector’s herbarium).
- Almost as if by accident, chords seem to have slipped into the fabric of the piece which are somewhat askew – like selecting shells along a sea shore which take one’s fancy.
- The slippage of melodic lines, which ideally should be in unison, but jostle against one another at different speeds and phrase-lengths.
Robert Smitheson, the land-art sculptor of the 1970s, compared the human mind to a terrain, a chaos of geological slippage.
The origins of the piece lie in a musical fragment which I composed last summer at the Dartington Summer School of Music, and which reappears here. This is another example of slippage – from one period of time to another.
© Morgan Hayes
There is much more [than deft scoring] to a piece such as Slippage by Morgan Hayes – a microtonal, complexly rhythmic octet in which an eruptive piano solo slips out of the ‘geological’ layers in which it had been embedded… His idiom with its skewed interplay of lines evokes that of his teacher Michael Finnissy but only as a background against which a new harmonic sweetness and approach to form define themselves.
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, 18 April 1999