Eye, Nose and Cheek was written in March 2002 and inspired by McWilliam’s sculpture, displayed in the Tate, Liverpool. It is for four Groups, with one or more player in each group (and optional extras), preferably those with a similar timbre, such as a woodwind group, string quartet, or a brass group. The parts are arranged thus: Groups A and B are upper range, Group C is middle range, Group D is lower range. (as directed by COMA’s flexible ensemble guidelines).
The inspiration comes from many different facets of the sculpture. The first is that the sculpture is made out of separate shapes that fit together. The music is made up of different sections of music, that are independent, but all grow out of one another and fit together to create the whole piece. I have also taken the words themselves as inspiration; ‘Eye’ begins as a solo (‘I’), ‘Nose’ made me think of the phrase ‘Follow your nose’ and therefore the canon seemed logical, and ‘Cheek’ made me want to write something more cheeky. The shape of the ‘Eye’ on the sculpture appears to be a perfect circle and to reflect this musically I used a very simple phrase and played it backwards (the word is also a palindrome). The ‘Nose’ section uses predominantly rising figures to reflect the shape of the nose and the ‘Cheek’ section uses the material from ‘Eye’ as it connects back to the eye on the sculpture.
The sculpture as a whole strikes me as something cold and classical to begin with, which comes alive when you realise how the shapes work together and this is what I was trying to convey in the music. The more you look at the sculpture, the more intense the face and the stare from the eye becomes. The players should match this in their performance.
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