Triple Concerto
for flute, cello , piano & computer


Mention International Electroacoustic Competition, Bourges 1984
Mention Prix Ars Electronica 1988




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Total duration: 27'

The Triple Concerto starts with a computer solo introducing the main melodic cell and the harmonic field created by it, as well as most of the timbres that are heard in the composition.
In the section that follows two different discourses develop. The first one of mechanical rhythms, is played by the acoustic instruments and is at times interrupted by the second one, more flexible and complex, played by the computer. The two contrasting discourses come together towards the end of the section.
The central section of the piece consists of three instrumental cadenzas alternating with computer solos. The function of the computer during the instrumental cadenzas is to extend the sound world of each acoustic instrument without putting forward its own.
In the final secction all acoustic instruments and computer play together.
The computer part in the Triple Concerto consists entirely of sounds taken from the piano, flute, and cello. These sounds were fed into the memory of a computer and modified by precise digital editing or simply by changing their envelope, vibrato, register and general articulation.
The computer part is often conceived as an extension of the instrumental parts, only developing an identity of its own during the computer solos. I wanted the players to produce sounds which felt natural in the context of their instrument, leaving the computer to enhance and articulate "unusual" instrumental sounds such as flute muliphonics, scraped sounds inside the piano, cello harmonics, etc.

A concerto is supposed to be a virtuoso piece. The greatest difficulty in this concerto is not in the playing of the instrumental parts themselves, but in conveying a structure which relies on the exact rhythmic synchronicity between players and computer.
The basic melodic and Harmonic material of the piece is rather simple. I chose to keep melody and harmony somewhat predictable so as to focus on other types of changes.
I was interested in the relationship between phrasing and timbre; in the opposition of the mechanical and the flexible; I wanted to write a piece where the performers would have to listen hard and play easy.

The Triple Concerto was commissioned by Option Band with funds provided by the Art Council of Great Britain. The tape was produced and composed with a Fairlight computer music instrument at The City University Electro-Acoustic Music Studio in London.