Blue II by Joan Miro (1961)
A mesmerising field of blue: a vivid streak of red; twelve irregular black splotches.
In ‘Homage to Miro’ written for CoMA London in 2010, various elements of the painting are used as the basis for the musical material and structure. The piece is in three movements, which are played without a break. Each movement has the name of a colour as its title, but all the musical elements are combined freely throughout the piece as it develops.
‘Blue’ explores a single note – ‘D’ – through constantly shifting timbres within the ensemble. ‘Red’ is a dissonant explosion of sound, but the thread of ‘Blue’ continuously permeates its texture, and the material of the following section is foreshadowed. ‘Black’ is a distorted march in 5/8 time, in which rhythmic figures are derived from the different groupings and proportions of Miro’s shapes in their procession across the canvas.
‘Homage to Miro’ is conceived for a large ensemble in four parts. Each of these parts frequently divides into tow or three separate lines for some sections of the piece, so there should be several players on each part. The instrumentation is free – any instruments capable of playing the require range can play any part. Octave transposition is allowed where notes go beyond the range of the instrument or the performer, except for certain places in the score where unison is required.
There is an important and quite demanding part for piano. This is written on a single piano stave, and can be taken by one player, or by two players sitting together as a piano duet and dividing the notes between them by mutual agreement.
There are parts for two percussionists. In the percussion parts, timbres are specified as Drum, Wood and Metal, and the position of the notes on the staves indicates approximate pitch levels. The percussionists may use any conventional instruments or unconventional sound sources, but all the instruments should be of indeterminate pitch. If pitched percussion instruments are used, they should play one of the four ensemble parts.
Call for Pieces, CoMA London 2010
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