Figuratively Speaking - programme notes

The following are the programme notes for the Symphony No 1 to be performed at the concert.

Figuratively Speaking is an orchestral metaphor

    met-a-phor ( m t-fôr ,-fr) n. one thing conceived as representing another; a symbol Metaphor (from the Greek: μεταφορά - metaphora) is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects. In the simplest case, this takes the form: "The [first subject] is a [second subject]." More generally, a metaphor is a rhetorical trope that describes a first subject as being or equal to a second subject in some way. Thus, the first subject can be economically described because implicit and explicit attributes from the second subject are used to enhance the description of the first.1

Figuratively speaking is a turn of phrase that means to speak in metaphors.

    1 –The road goes both ways is built on a single “figure”or motif. The piece then “Speaks” the figure in a variety of ways, modifying and manipulating it until it is unrecognizable as the original motif. As metaphors are describing one thing by associating it with another and equating the two, in this piece all the elements are equated and thereby go both ways, associated with each other so in the end they are all part of the same element. It is a journey of an idea; the journey is the heart of this metaphor. The orchestra is the journey and the journey is orchestra.

    2 –Time flies when you’re havin’ fun is just fun. The more fun it is, the faster it gets. Like the first movement, the piece is built on a single melodic idea. This “figure” is longer than in the first movement but still core to all the melodic ideas. During the piece, it is mutating, reversed, inverted, in a fugue and twisted about, yet always returning back to the original idea. As the piece progresses the tempo speeds up. When it’s all over it feels like it should have gone on longer, and perhaps it should. After all, it is a lot of fun.

    3 –You can’t catch rabbits with drumsis a percussion piece, for the entire orchestra. There are two “figures” for this piece although one is a concept and not a collection of notes –the percussion section. The timpani, side drums, bass drum, tom toms and eventually the gong move through different rhythms in a constant stream. Occasionally the other instruments augment this rhythmic progression propelling the piece forward. Amid all this is the “rabbit” motif bouncing about, sometimes quickly, and sometimes rather slow. While the two ideas fit together, they are still always separate, neither caught up with the other.

    4 –Don't tell your secrets to the fence is a slow, dark piece. The figure is the longest motif yet, and built on the baroque idea of melodic line. Each time the figure is repeated it alters slightly, so it eventually becomes unidentifiable from the original motif. Yet, it is possible to see (or hear) the progression from one to the next. There are also elements of the "secret" which stand out as if taunting the motif as it moves through the piece.

    5 -The water is like the sun is simile - where two things are compared. So, as a figure of speech, this movement compares the previous motifs, giving life to them as a collective whole. As the figures meld together, the similarities between them become more obvious as if to say "there are many ways to say the same thing" and yet each way is still unique.

1 (April 2008)


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