Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dying of the Light details

Dying of the Light: Pacific Resonance for Peter                                               for soprano saxophone (2014) (soprano saxophone (Bb) [transposed]; 1 E-note crotales [sounds two octaves higher than written] with brass mallet or small Japanese temple bowl with bead striker; voice [at pitch]); duration: 5′ 00″

score available from AMC

Brenton Broadstock, Peter Sculthorpe, Bruce Crossman and Ian Shanahan, Art Park, Sapporo, 1990

Brenton Broadstock, Peter Sculthorpe, Bruce Crossman and Ian Shanahan, Art Park, Sapporo, 1990

program note My purpose in writing this piece was to create a work for my colleague—Katia Beaugeais—that captured the meditative stillness and living colour fluctuations of the Japanese Honkyoku tradition, reinterpreted for soprano saxophone as a tribute to one of my mentors—Peter Sculthorpe. The piece begins in the ritualised stillness of crotales ringing, as if being a Buddhist prayer bell, and emerges into glossolalia type chanting from the Judaic Christian tradition with shakuhachi-like explosions of air, panting and arch-like exuberant melodic phrases—peppered with grace-note articulations and flourishes to energize it. The ritualised crotales and chant sounds recur as restful refrains and meditative moments throughout the work, whilst exuberantly free bursts of Gagaku-derived Pacific harmony gradually reveal themselves throughout the piece; these climax in an exuberant and liberated athletic section utilising the rich colour range of the soprano saxophone. In quick snatches of sound, the climactic resonance gradually ebbs back to panting, ritualised chant and crotales, and distilled stillness that dies into a sub-tone flourish.

Dying of the Light, (bars 19-29)—Bells, chant and living colour

Dying of the Light, (bars 19-29)—Bells, chant and living colour

Commission note: Katia Beaugeais originally commissioned Dying of the Light: Pacific Resonance for Peter for performance at 17th World Saxophone Congress, Strasbourg, France in July 2015. However, it was Beaugeais’ premiere with a flowing and detailed performance of Dying of the Light: Pacific Resonance for Peter at XVIII World Saxophone Congress 2018 in Zagreb, Croatia that finally brought the work to an amazing realisation.

ADOLPHESAX.COM: The Saxophone Web Site: Dying of the Light: Pacific Resonance for Peter by Bruce Crossman Katia Beaugeais XVIII World Sax

 

Blossom Sadness details

Blossom Sadness
for 2 violins, viola and cello (2012)

duration: 14′ 00″

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note Blossom Sadness aims to express an underlying fragile sadness amidst beauty as if a type of plum-blossom aesthetic moment had appeared before disappearing into kinaesthetic movement. Korean sonic and Japanese visual cultures inspired the music. The form of the piece is of two evolving climaxes balanced by drone-like fragments at the outset and close. Initially quick interval fragments gradually dissolve over slow cello drones. These are followed by bitter-sweet chords versus solo Pansori-inspired lines that gradually evolve into attacking climactic section of open string and behind-the-bridge multi-stops drawn from Korean court music fragments. Bitter-sweet slowness returns to evolve into a wilder chordal attacking climax, this time more like the driven oneness resonance of samulnori percussion ensembles. This returning wild-momentum is suddenly interrupted several times by the quiet semi-silent microtonal drones of the outset; their stillness intensifying the dance frenzy. This intensification by stillness was inspired by the way Japanese artist Yasuda Yukihiko’s vivid-reds are pushed out into a visual vibrancy by stiller dull-yellow haziness in “Princess Nukda at Asuka in Spring.”

Blossom Sadness (bars 1-4) Crossman describes the work as aiming “to express an underlying fragile sadness amidst beauty as if a type of plum-blossom aesthetic moment had appeared before disappearing into kinaesthetic movement.”

Blossom Sadness (bars 1-4)
“to express an underlying fragile sadness amidst beauty as if a type of plum-blossom aesthetic moment had appeared before disappearing into kinaesthetic movement.”                                                                                                

 

Resonance of Red details

Resonance of Red details
for sitār, tablā and harpsichord (2013)

Sitār                                                                                                                                                              1 Percussionist: Tablā (tablā [dāhinā] and bāyān)                                              Harpsichord (lower and upper manuals, 8+8 coupling, buff stop)

duration: 15′ 00″

score available
Australian Music Centre

© Bruce Crossman, Resonance of Red (bars 111-114)—Slow Colour Resonances

© Bruce Crossman, Resonance of Red (bars 111-114)—Slow Colour Resonances

program note
Resonance of Red refers to the work’s inspiration through multifaceted references to both Indian Bangāla Bhairava rāga and its hint of Chinese culture (the red association)—that underpins my Confucian-inspired living-colour aesthetic. The rāga has associations to the sensuous Bāngālī—a female lutenist—and red similar to the China rose. The music’s living-colour aesthetic embodies these musical associations: after a sharp start from harpsichord and tablā articulations, living-colours emerge in prepared and inside fingered strings on the keyboard instrument, bāyān drum hand slides, and subtle pitch vibrato coupled with chikāri plus sympathetic string resonances on sitār—that evolve into the Bangāla Bhairava rāga. The resonances of colour are intercut by jazzy interpolations on harpsichord and the remnants of traditional North Indian tablā patterns and vocalize (such as Moharā) that are all swept up into wild extemporization-inspired sitār lines. The form of the work moves from colour resonances to two central improvisatory-like frenetic climaxes—both framed by distilled colour sections—before returning to the quiet opening red rāga resonances.

Performance History

Commissioned by Vive’ Vinçent (Paris based harpsichordist) for performance at the interdisciplinary event SLOW, Toronto, Canada, November 2014 and Paris, France 2015.

© Bruce Crossman, Resonance of Red (bars 146-149)—Improvisatory-Inspired Energy Collision

© Bruce Crossman, Resonance of Red (bars 146-149)—Improvisatory-Inspired Energy Collision

Early Spring details

Early Spring that No One Sees
for viola, percussion and piano (2012)
Viola                                                                                                                                                               1 Percussionist                                                                                                                              (Filipino kulintang or Cambodian korng thomm, crotales, vibraphone, hi-hat cymbals, suspended cymbal, Thai nipple gong, Peking Opera gong , Japanese Temple bowl [high], Korean ching [suspended], 2 bongos [high, middle], 2 tom-toms [middle, low], wood block [high/hollow], bass drum)             Piano

duration: 14′ 00″

Early Spring—Mulgoa Nature Reserve, foot of the Blue Mountains, Sydney

program note
Early Spring the No One Sees draws its inspiration from Kunqu—the mother form of Chinese opera, specifically Wendy Li Mark’s translation of the Peony Pavilion with its fragile transitory image of emergent hidden beauty that ‘no one sees.’ This is used in my music as a metaphor of hidden moments of sonic colour on the cusp of emerging, that suddenly then flourish as ecstatic climaxes. Labyrinths of emergent sonic colours recur as hidden moments throughout the piece. The viola’s use of subtle variations of vibrato, harmonics and noise techniques merge with transient East and Southeast Asian gongs (including either Filipino kulintang or Cambodian korng thomm) and bowed crotales and vibraphone; all of these are undergirded by moments of overtone resonances from stopped-strings and interval-colours on piano. Momentary utterances of Sydney Blue Mountain frog-inspired rhythmic counterpoint, largely on viola, abruptly interrupt the quieter hidden colouristic textures, before combining with kulintang-driven repeated note rhythms jousting with free-jazz inspired chains of fourth-based chords on piano. The macrocosmic structure works as emergent colours towards two swirling climaxes of ecstatic joy with the quieter colours weaving around them and utilising vocalizations to reveal the poetic heart of the work—the sensory moment of  ‘zheyi shatian’ (this brief moment).

© Bruce Crossman, Early Spring that No One Sees (bars 1-6)—Hidden Colours

Performance History                                                                                   Early Spring that No One Sees is dedicated to my friends Susan Ung (viola) and Lynn Varton (percussion) for performance in Los Angeles, USA.

© Bruce Crossman, Early Spring that No One Sees (bars 98-101)—Disruptive Frogs

score available from
AMC

Spirit-Presence details

Spirit-Presence                                                                                             for two shakuhachi players (2012)                                                                                                1 Jiari-Shakuhachi (lacquered) [1.8 shaku length] plus 2 crotales [pitches D and E; sounding an octave higher than written] with brass mallet, or small Japanese temple bowl [indeterminate high pitch; ca. 5cms in diameter and 2.5cms deep] with bead striker; 1 Jinashi-Shakuhachi (un-lacquered), or soft-toned wooden or unlacquered bamboo shakuhachi [1.8 shaku length] plus 2 crotales [pitches D and E; sounding an octave higher than written] with brass mallet, or small Japanese temple bowl [indeterminate high pitch; ca. 5cms in diameter and 2.5cms deep] with bead striker
duration: 10′ 00″

publisher: Australian Music Centre

audio sample

score available from
AMC

program note                                                                                            Spirit-Presence was inspired by the earthy un-lacquered sounds of the Jinashi-Shakuhachi (Zensabo School) and Jim Franklin’s Jiari-Shakuhachi (Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshukan), especially the heart of his sound—rich reverberation echoes and bell hints from the Hearing Stillness recording made in the Abbey Church in Neresheim, Germany. The reverential honkyoku stillness and reverberation with Christian bell overtones inspired my own evocation of ecstatic glossolalia (speaking in tongues) of the Christian tradition with the spacious bellbird sounds reverberant in the lower Blue Mountains bush, near where I live in Sydney. My work opens with the earthy roughness of long held-note un-lacquered sounds graduating air-noise sounds to half-pitches with slowly evolving vibrato against bellbird-like punctuations of high ringing metal resonances (either crotales or Japanese temple bowl) and glossolalia attack hints. As the work progresses, movement sections emerge of explosive attack breath and whirling arpeggios with wild yuri and vibrato pitch-fluctuations as well as gurgling as if the lower Blue Mountains birdsong had erupted into a reverberant cacophony alongside chant-like bursts of phonemes from glossolalia. Returning un-lacquered long-note stillness provides breath respite after the ecstatic sound but this is still cut by birdsong-like exuberance of lacquered shakuhachi arpeggio bursts. An intense ecstatic centre forms a culmination of the vocalize hints of glossolalia and manic birdsong inspired life through repeated-note chant and agitated-sounds of un-lacquered shakuhachi versus sustained high register arpeggios of smooth-lacquered sound perforated with tamane gurgles on both instruments. The earthy roughness of long evolving sounds merging between half-pitch and air sounds with tamane returning amidst metal resonances and chant phonemes to still the piece to earth again.

Spirit-Presence (bars 20-28), Glossolalia Utterance

performance history                                                                                             Jim Franklin commissioned Spirit-Presence for performance at the European Shakuhachi Festival.

Qi Colour from Hidden Resonances

Qi Colour from Hidden Resonances
for piano (2010)                                                                                                                        duration: 5’00”

publisher: Wirripang

audio sample 

score available from
Wirripang Pty Ltd

PDF: Qi Colour from Hidden Resonances (Crossman)

inspiration

Morning Nature Run, Mulgoa Nature Reserve, Sydney

program note
This piece was written for my friend and University of Western Sydney colleague, Diana Blom, for her China-Australia exchange project. The work was inspired by the Chinese literati philosophy where subtle hidden sounds of yun sit alongside more robust qi energy. Hidden half timbres from rubber-stopped and finger-dampened strings, as well as silently undampened strings as resonators for attack dyad resonances gradually build to and decay from juxtaposed colour blocks of sound strewn across wide resonances as a type of qi inspired energy. Chinese modes in joyous linear bursts in the treble register heighten the exuberance. The wild juxtapositions draw on the free improvisation of MMW (Medeski, Martin and Wood) as much as Chinese literati philosophy. The work closes with a return to the hidden resonances, but, with high melodic modal touches imitative of birds awakening the bush at the base of the Blue Mountains on my morning run.

performance history                                                                                               21 November, 2011, Antonietta Loffredo (piano), the Associazione Carducci, Italy

25 August, 2011, Antonietta Loffredo (piano),
Art of Sound
Performance Space, Music
Kingswood Campus, 
University of Western Sydney

23 August 2011, Antonietta Loffredo (piano), Shadows and Silhouettes: New Piano Compositions Celebrating a Chinese-Western Confluence, University of Wollongong, Faculty of Creative Arts, Gleniffer Brae Manor House, Wollongong

18 August, 2011, Antonietta Loffredo (piano), 
Theme & Variations, 451 Willoughby Rd., Willoughby, Sydney

27 July 2010, Diana Blom (piano), International Society for Music Education Conference, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, China

comments

“…while a few have a achieved a genuine and deep understanding.

Two pieces stand out immediately and at first listening. Bruce Crossman’s Qi Colour From Hidden Resonances (2010) combines some attention-grabbing sounds and textures with a jazz-influenced sense of harmony and motivic development…

The Italian pianist, Antonietta Loffredo, plays rather well…she understandably responds with greater pianistic imagination to the more musically interesting works (the Crossman and Schweizer pieces are especially good).”

The Music Trust: Reviews (online), Noble, Alistair. “Shadows and Silhouettes: new piano compositions celebrating a Chinese-Western confluence,” Dec 1, 2014

Resophonica details

Bruce Crossman & Michael Atherton, University of Western Sydney, recording studio, 2009

Resophonica: Michael Atherton and Bruce Crossman         improvisations for piano, prepared-piano, resophonic guitar and percussion (2009)piano (Steinway C [Hamburg]); prepared-piano (Kawai KG-710); resophonic guitar; 1 percussionist (cymbal, rototoms, woodblocks, bass drum, kulintang, vibraphone, bossed metal plates)

Track 1: bunyip blues (6’56’’); piano and percussion (cymbal, rototoms, woodblocks, bass drum)

Track 2: resophonica (7’33’’); resophonic guitar and piano

Track 3: tik tik (12’59’’); prepared-piano and piano 

Track 4: palimpsest (water dragon) (16’47’’); piano and vibraphone 

Track 5: snajo for jylee (12’24’’); piano and percussion (kulintang, bossed metal plates)

Track 6: Pentaphonia (9’31’’); resophonic guitar and piano

Track 7: off-the-rail blues (7’22’’); piano and piano (cymbal, rototoms, woodblocks)

 total duration: 73’ 27’’

Bossed metal plates; water dragon; kulintang; Bruce Crossman & Michael Atherton, UWS recording studio, 2009; images copyright: Wallace Crossman, 2009

recording available from Wirripang Pty Ltd 

Recording: Recording Engineer: Petar Jovanov; Mastering: Michael Macken; Recording: University of Western Sydney, Main Studio/Performance Space, Penrith Campus (Kingswood), Saturday 15 August, 2009; Pianos: Steinway C (Hamburg); Kawai KG-710

Prepared Kawai & Steinway pianos, UWS recording studio

program note
In 2006 Atherton and Crossman had a chance encounter at the Riverside Theatres when given an opportunity to combine piano and metallic idiophones in an improvisation to illustrate a point in a composers’ forum. The occasion provided an instant affinity to work creatively together.  Since that time they have collaborated on both scholarly and artistic pursuits, but until recently were unable to develop their Riverside conversation due to a myriad other commitments.

Seeking a chance to extend the discoveries of the encounter Atherton and Crossman planned a studio session with a defined sequence of improvised encounters to explore a range of timbral possibilities involving a newly acquired Steinway piano, and a Filipino Kulintang gong set from San Francisco, as well as a prepared Kawai piano, a resophonic guitar (made by Gerard Gilet from Australian timber), and tuned and non-tuned percussion.

The studio was configured with microphone set ups to capture a number of instrumental combinations. The focus was on the playful, the intuitive and the ‘comprovised’. Paintings were hung up in the space, poems were read as sources, and strategies were discussed briefly.

 Meanwhile, both musicians were watched over by Miles Davis, high up on a wall poster, looking down, a finger over his lips, as if to say: “Ok, dudes, listen, before you take your turn.” At a deeper level this is one of the keys to improvisation—to listen to what is around you and inside you, contemplating the sounds that exist between the silences.

The session produced over two hours of recorded music. There were no overdubs or edits.  The aim was to communicate the raw energy of an acoustic conversation. Seven items were selected for this compilation, to be augmented with titles that captured some of the feeling in the session, and graced by another inspirational Wallace Crossman painting.                                                                                  

Petar Jovanov (recording engineer) & Bruce Crossman, UWS recording studio, 2009