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Engravings was composed for the Ensemble Modern as part of the 2013 International Ensemble Modern Academy and it is dedicated in admiration to this iconic group of soloists.

Whilst many art forms largely depend on space, music has a thrilling relationship with time. Time serves as a canvas for composers, and compositions can in many ways also be described as sculpted time. Ancient Greeks had two words for time, ός - Chronos (time in the traditional sense) and ός - Kairos (the opportune moment). The former is quantitative and the latter, qualitative. This distinction is very important as we live our lives in chronos but experience most of the important events of our lives in kairos. For me, the art of music composition highlights this relationship; whereas music cannot exist without chronos, it is the kairos that makes it worthwhile—the pursuit of supreme moments.

As an art form, engraving is very lengthy and painstakingly process-driven, not unlike composing, and techniques, instruments and types of engraving directly inspired this three-movement composition. At times, the inspiration lies in the engraved artefact itself. At others, I am interested in the technical process or the instruments utilized. Methods of production depend on the materials used: Chalcography, xylography and lithography are engravings on copper, wood and stone, respectively, and these are represented both literally and conceptually by the ensemble, either in colour or scope. Pantograph is an engraving machine based on parallelograms where the movement of one point in tracing an image is produced identically in other points, and etching refers to the method of making prints from a metal plate. Whilst beauty is found in the finished engraving, there are also moments of beauty in the process of creation itself. Therefore, Engravings uses this art form to explore both the uniqueness of these concepts but also how they merge during the creative process.

Engravings has been composed with the intention of becoming an evening length piece in the future. Therefore, the composition at this time, point and format can also serve as a consummation for the envisaged sound world, gesture, scope and vision.


17 minutes

Ensemble Modern, cresc... Biennale für Moderne Musik, Hessicher Rundfunk Sendesaal, Frankfurt, 24th November 2013

1 Flute (=piccolo=alto flute), 1 Oboe, 1 B-flat Clarinet (=Bass Clarinet in B-flat), 1 Bassoon (=Contrabassoon), 1 Horn in F, 1 Trumpet in B-flat, 1 Trombone, 2 Percussion, 1 Piano, 1 Electric Piano, 2 Violin, 1 Viola, 1 Violoncello, 1 Double bass
Composition date


24 November 2013

Frankfurt Rhein Main, Germany

Ensemble Modern