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Giles Swayne

Publisher: Novello & Co

Solo (1986)
commissioned by Julian Bream
Novello & Co Ltd
Solo Works (excluding keyboard)
Year Composed
15 Minutes
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Programme Note
Giles Swayne Solo (1986)
Solo was commissioned by Julian Bream and written in 1986. During the first half of the 1980s I had trimmed my musical language drastically, eliminating all harmonic complexity and dissonance, and restricting myself to a modal sound-world and audibly physical rhythms – often derived from my interest in African music (though never an attempt to imitate it). Canto for cello, Magnificat, Riff-Raff, A Song for Haddi, Symphony for Small Orchestra, Naaotwa Lala and Missa Tiburtina are examples of this period of radically reduced vocabulary. By the time I started work on Solo I had achieved the purpose of washing my ears out, and was ready to re-enter (cautiously) and broader sound-world.

Solo remains within a modal context, and much of it is purely pentatonic; but the mode is gradually transformed and extended so that the full complement of twelve notes becomes available, and therefore more clearly focused.

© Giles Swayne

‘Solo’ is harmonically straightforward, often pentatonic, due in part to the composer’s interest in African music though rhythmically fairly challenging. The result is a very attractive concert work of considerable size with the potential to cast a spell of sorts.
Stephen Kenyon, Classical Guitar,01/11/1997
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