John Young / E E Cummings

  • Year of composition: 2005
  • Duration: 15:35
  • Instrumentation: flute (alto flute), clarinet, violin, cello, harp, percussion, piano and 5.1-channel fixed medium


ISRC CAD500722200

  • 48 kHz, 24 bits

In memory of my mother

The core sound used in the work is a recording of one of the bells of Forlì’s Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Croce, which dates from the 15th century. Hearing their chimes amongst the bells of many other churches in and around the centre of the city evoked for me a sense of the timelessness of such sounds and their interaction in space — a physical, architectural presence that extends beyond living memory. As it happens, the Duomo’s original bell tower was destroyed by German soldiers as they retreated from Forlì in 1944 — a fact which, for me, shifts the significance of these particular sounds from an image of constancy and eternity to one of regeneration and hope.

Arrivederci’s harmonic colours were developed in response to the bell’s spectral content, embellished and embroidered through instrumental sonorities. Filtering out certain partials of the bell spectrum meant that I could ‘retune’ the bell’s perceived pitch (by leaving only harmonically related sets of partials) conveying the impression of different fundamentals and allowing it to integrate with the work’s shifting harmonic fields. Digital convolution of components of the bell’s spectrum with instrumental samples also meant that the bell timbre could be made to gel harmonically with the fixed tuning of the instruments. In more poetic terms, the distinctive spectrum of the bell might be taken here as a metaphor for memory, as an implied and recognizable identity. The coherent morphology of the actual bell surfaces at certain points to maintain a sense of the realistic source, but in other respects the instruments are in dialogue with rhythmic and spectral traces of the bell’s sonic qualities.

The poem n// OthI by E E Cummings (1894-1962) is used in the work (intoned by the flutist, directly across the mouthpiece of the instrument) as it evoked for me the sense of infinity and serenity evoked by contemplation of time and memory.


g can


the m





Arrivederci was realized in 2005 in the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre at De Montfort University (Leicester, UK) and premiered on July 20, 2006 by the ensemble Stroma conducted by Hamish McKeich in the Ilott Theatre of the Wellington Town Hall in Wellington (New Zealand). n// OthI from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by EE Cummings; edited by George J Firmage — intoned by the flutist in Arrivederci — is used and reproduced by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1963, ’91 Trustees for the EE Cummings Trust. Arrivederci was realized during a period of research leave funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK). Thanks to Bridget Douglas and Jane Sherwood for instrumental sound samples.


  • July 20, 2006, StromaLumen, Ilott Concert Chamber — Wellington Town Hall, Wellington (New Zealand)


About this recording

The present studio recording of Arrivederci was made possible through a grant from Creative New Zealand. The ensemble Stroma was recorded in Ambisonic B-format and mixed in 5.1 by Roy Carr, engineer, and Roger Smith, producer, on September 23-25, 2007 in the Adam Concert Room of the New Zealand School of Music (NZSM) in Wellington (New Zealand). Final mixing of the instrumental part with the electroacoustic part was realized by Dominique Bassal, post-production and mastering, and John Young on November 17, 2007 in Montréal (Québec).