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John McCabe

Publisher: Novello & Co

Joybox (2013)
Commissioned by the BBC for the 2013 Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, for first performance by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Juanjo Mena.
Novello & Co Ltd
Year Composed
7 Minutes
Programme Note
John McCabe Joybox (2013)
Joybox was commissioned by the BBC for the 2013 Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, and is a musical souvenir of a trip to Japan a few years ago. I was in Osaka listening with amazement to an ‘entertainment centre’ full of slot machines (one-armed bandits) playing widely different musical jingles, all going on simultaneously but independently. Eventually I seemed to perceive a kind of musical structural pattern to the babel of noise, and this gave me the idea for what I hope is an ‘entertainment’ piece. (I was certainly entertained by the noise emanating from the ‘entertainment centre’). Unlike those of the original, however, my patterns are constantly changing as well as coming together in different ways.

Joybox is dedicated to the memory of Steve Martland. The first performance was given at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 25th July 2013 by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Juanjo Mena.

© Copyright 2014 by John McCabe

Preview the score:


...[a] multilayered and high-spirited musical homage to Japanese gaming arcades....
Richard Morrison, The Times,23/11/2015
...Joybox should have a long life as a concert-opener that's both clever and enormous fun, in a style some considerable way downstream from Hartmann and Tippett.
Martin Anderson, Tempo,01/01/2014
John McCabe's brief but packed orchestral whirl, Joybox. Inspired by visiting a gaming arcade in Osaka and encountering a cacophonyof electronic jingles, McCabe concocts an improbable seven-minute coherence out of a blip-blitz of cartoonish mini-themes. Not a dull second.
Richard Morrison, The Times,29/07/2013
Influenced by the cacophony of slot machines at a Japanese gaming hall, Joybox is a cleverly layered piece: starting with a repetitive beat of a tenor drum, jingle upon jingle is layered alongside the strings; pulsating percussion, woodwind, piano, an effervescent piccolo and an excitable brass section culminate in a outburst of a slot machine win. This short yet exciting piece captured the spirit of our noisy contemporary world with melody and humour
Melinda Hughes, Spear's,29/07/2013
An interesting and exciting new piece
Julia Savage, Bach Track,29/07/2013
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