Hold / / Burst

Gilley, Matthew

About the work

This piece is directed by the breathing of the players, who keep their own time*. It is scored for four-part flexible ensemble and piano. It is all focussed on breath and the percussive and expressive nature of breathing.

From the score:

“When you see the lungs symbol, take a deep breath in; play on the out breath. The bars should be executed in one breath/bow. Do not worry about purity of sound, the intention is that it should break at the end of a breath/bow at times. The piano is, in essence, a solo. Some of the instructions for expression and articulation are contradictory, or may be impossible to execute on your instrument. How you solve these problems is up to you. Be creative. Be idiomatic. For example, you may have an instrument that cannot do harmonics, so you should try to approximate that sound in some way.

(* As an alternative, a conductor may beat the beginning of each bar; this was done at the first performance and worked well. However, the ideal would be for players to keep their own time and drift apart somewhat.)”

A recording can be found here


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score & parts



7m 00s




Flexible scored ensemble with no percussion and piano/keyboard
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