raW (2003)

piccolo, bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and drums

raW was written by filtering J. S. Bach’s Second Brandenburg Concerto through Bob Marley’s War (Bach’s first movement), Burning Spear’s The Invasion (second movement), and John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever (third movement). The constant running sixteenths of the Bach are by turns syncopated or silenced, leaving impressions of reggae or the march, though the specific ingredients are not usually recognisable. Recent technology, in the form of MIDI files downloaded from the Internet, coupled with agile music software (Sibelius, in this case), contributed decisively to early drafts of this work. With them, I made templates, which I then edited over the course of many drafts, as might an artist who takes a photographic image and modifies it by drawing, scratching, colouring, and the like.

raW was written during the build-up to the American invasion of Iraq, but it was only afterwards that I noticed the relevance of the “filtering” pieces’ titles.

raW was commissioned by Ergo Concerts (Barbara Croall, Artistic Director) and written with the assistance of a grant from The Toronto Arts Council.

James Rolfe [ii-07]

Performance

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