• Michael Nyman
  • An Eye for Optical Theory (The Draughtsman's Contract) (1982)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Exclusive to the Michael Nyman Band
roach/gregory/brady
Unavailable for performance.

  • 2ssx(asx).barsx:(picc:fl)hn.tpt.btbn(euph)pf2vn.va.vcebgtr
  • version available for saxophone ensemble
  • 5 min

Programme Note

‘An Eye for Optical Theory’ is based on a four-bar harmonic frame, probably composed by Purcell’s lesser-known contemporary William Croft. Nyman grasps the syncopated potential of the original by allowing the two saxophones to layer textures consisting of individual ‘collections’ of melodies over a constantly-changing backing track in the remaining ensemble, eventually giving rise to a strident melodic line in the upper strings.

Each piece in Nyman’s soundtrack becomes a study in the poetics of musical deconstruction and reconstruction. However, there is also another and altogether more immediate dimension to this music: it is given powerful and vivid expression within the context of Nyman’s band. Rasping, hooting saxophones and horns are counterbalanced by animated, energetic strings, and underpinned by pounding piano chords and propulsive, purposeful bass lines. Such is the visceral immediacy of Nyman’s music that the understated aesthetic and technical apparatus brought to bear on these ‘found objects’ from the Baroque era sometimes goes unnoticed.

Listen

An Eye For Optical Theory - 2004 Digital Remaster

Discography

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