• Giles Swayne
  • A Song for Haddi (1983)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Bath Festival

  • fl.clpercva.vc.db
  • 15 min

Programme Note

This work was commissioned by the 1983 Bath Festival, for the Nash Ensemble, and completed in May of that year. It is scored for flute, clarinet in A, drums, viola, cello and bass, and lasts about 11 minutes.

The drums used are hand-drums - two pairs of large congas, which are the nearest readily available equivalent to the Bugárabu drums of the Loa drummers of the Gambia and Southern Senegal, whose music I have studied and recorded. The piece is not in any way, however, an imitation of Jola drumming; my idea was to make melodic use of drumming so that the drummer provides the core and source of all melodic material. He plays continuously throughout and the other instruments gradually grow around him, consists of verse and clearly contrasted chorus. The drummer repeats verse and chorus until both have been played four times. Then he plays the verse for the fifth time at which point the song itself is heard. This is a simple little tune, which, together with the drumming, formed the germ of the piece. The drummer concludes with a short coda.

The music of the instruments, though it stems from the verse / chorus structure of the drum music, does not repeat itself in this way but develops continuously from verse to verse.


*Hadi to rhyme with Scottish 'laddie' or posh English 'study'


© Giles Swayne