• Craig Armstrong
  • Northern Sound ... Islands (2002)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

  • 2(2pic)22(bcl)24.2.2+btbn.0timp.2perchp.pfstr(min.8.7.6.5.4)
  • 20 min

Programme Note

Northern Sound…...Islands, is an extension of my recent orchestral work which takes landscape as the initial stimulus for musical composition. However Islands, like my previous works, are not overtly programmatic in the romantic tradition. Instead I interpret the landscape as an abstract and symbolic starting point for each work. Islands became architectural as the architect John Pawsan describes architecture as about space, movement, compression, release, proportion, scale and light.

I also took inspiration for Islands from the work of Mark Rothko. His preoccupation with inner light, which initially became common place in the criticism of Venetian painting in the 16th Century, gave Rothko's work a luminescence, which alongside with work of Jon Schueler the American painter, who worked directly on Scottish islands, interpreting the constant change of light, weather and sky; a personal response to the endlessness of space.

I revisited the orchestral works of Ravel and Debussy whose use of orchestral colour and instrumental ensembles have always been a inspiration. The lineage of Ravel in particular can be traced to several modern music traditions both electronic and acoustic. Also the manipulation of sound in the electronic studio i.e. looping, deconstructing, and filtering etc, has influenced several of the techniques in Islands, although these have been applied acoustically.

Islands is composed in five short movements. However there is no break between movements four and five.

Craig Armstrong.

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