24 April 2015
clarinet in Bb, violin, viola, double bass
Commissioned by ensemble Scratch the Surface
f.p. ensemble Scratch the Surface, Kings Place, London, 10th May 2010
William Billings and Supply Belcher wrote great eighteenth-century American Harmonies – collections of hymns and sacred songs – and named them after the places they were composed or sung – Maine, New England, &c. My Harmonies of South London series (Catford, Lewisham, Nunhead and Peckham) evokes this tradition, and so is not an attempt to portray the places mentioned in the titles. The Nunhead Harmony is the sparest-textured and consequently in a way the most extreme of the set. It continues my abiding interest in elemental or rudimentary musical materials: the piece is made out of lines which are very restricted in pitch and rhythm; these are joined together into a rough, bracing and joyful harmony.