Cabinets de curiosité (CD) Track Listing Detail

The Tincture of Physical Things

Alistair MacDonald

  • Year of composition: 2000
  • Duration: 13:46
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 24 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 32 bits

Here is an alchemist’s toolkit: the ‘base materials’ of earth, water, fire and air tumble and combine.

“The matter lies before the eyes of all; everybody sees it, touches it, loves it, but knows it not. It is glorious and vile, precious and of small account, and is found everywhere… But, to be brief, our Matter has as many names as there are things in this world; that is why the foolish know it not.” (Musaeum Hermeticum, Frankfurt. 1625)

[i-18]


The Tincture of Physical Things was realized in 2000 in the studios of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) and premiered on May 3, 2000 in the Alexander Gibson Opera Studio during the Academy Now! Festival in Glasgow (Scotland, UK).


Premiere

  • May 3, 2000, Academy Now! Festival, Alexander Gibson Opera Studio — Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow (Scotland, UK)

Scintilla

Alistair MacDonald

  • Year of composition: 2013
  • Duration: 9:00
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 24 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 32 bits

Scintilla: a spark, a glimmer, a particle of fire, a glittering speck. Carrie Fertig’s handmade, flame-worked glass instruments were the starting point for this piece. Sounds from these fascinating, oddly shaped objects create a dense, powerful, resonant texture, but at the same time we sense their fragility and vulnerability.

[i-18]


Scintilla was realized in 2013 in the studios of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and premiered on February 11, 2013 in the Alexander Gibson Opera Studio in Glasgow (Scotland, UK).


Premiere

  • February 11, 2013, Electroacoustic Concert, Alexander Gibson Opera Studio — Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow (Scotland, UK)

Final Times

Alistair MacDonald

  • Year of composition: 1998
  • Duration: 5:04
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Commission: BBC

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 24 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 32 bits

Final Times is a piece of ‘cinema for the ears’ based on sounds I recorded in the city of Glasgow, where I live and work. It is a vibrant city. We hear cars, buses, trains and particularly the subway carriages’ distinctive shrieking of metal wheels on rails. The title is heard in the shout of a newspaper seller and there are more voices with local accents in the street, a football crowd and a lively pub. There is the rhythmic clicking of an escalator in Glasgow’s huge, Victorian railway station and the clatter of a train crossing tracks. The sounds and the images they conjure are reshaped and transmute, so that shapes shift, and new colours emerge. The clacking of the escalator becomes a train rattling on rails; voices are stretched into the hum and squeal of the subway train, which returns in the sound of a distant bagpiper on the street, shimmering like heat haze over the city.

[i-18]


Final Times was realized in 1998 in the studios of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD). It was first broadcast on BBC Radio in March 1998 and first performed on April 4, 1998 during the See Hear! concert of the Rumours… 98 concert series produced by BEAST in the Foyle Studio of the Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham (UK). The piece was commissioned by the BBC for Radio Scotland.

Psychedelian Streams

Alistair MacDonald

  • Year of composition: 2004
  • Duration: 8:50
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Commission: Reeling & Writhing Theatre Company

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 24 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 32 bits

Delia Derbyshire composed nearly 200 works in her 11 years at the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. For those of us growing up in the UK in the 1960s and early ’70s, her sounds heard on TV and radio were a part of our lives. Psychedelian Streams looks back to those early days of musique concrète both in its choice of materials and the way I shape them. I chose sounds reminiscent of the era and my childhood (a tumbling Slinky, a wooden ruler rattling on a table edge, wind chimes) and I explore them using old, analogue studio techniques: looping, speed-change, editing, reversing and reverberation. The title hints at the surreal imagery conjured up by these interweaving, transformed sounds and to Derbyshire’s own work, Delia’s Psychedelian Waltz.

[i-18]


Psychedelian Streams was realized in 2004 in the studios of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) and premiered on October 7, 2004 as part of the theatrical production Standing Wave at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow (Scotland, UK). The piece was commissioned by the Reeling & Writhing Theatre Company (Glasgow, Scotland, UK).


Premiere

  • October 7, 2004, Standing Wave, Tron Theatre, Glasgow (Scotland, UK)

Bound for Glory (Postcard from Poland)

Alistair MacDonald

  • Year of composition: 2002
  • Duration: 7:28
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 24 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 32 bits

I spent a week travelling on old trains through southern Poland, visiting churches, monasteries, synagogues, looking at stained-glass windows… The piece opens on the station platform in the small town of Biecz at dusk on a warm summer’s evening. “This train is bound for glory, this train.”

[i-18]


Bound for Glory (Postcard from Poland) was realized in 2002 in the studios of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) and premiered on November 10, 2002 during the Audio Art Festival in Kraków (Poland).


Premiere

  • November 10, 2002, Audio Art Festival 2002: Alistair MacDonald: Multichannel Space, Akademia Muzyczna w Krakowie, Kraków (Poland)

Equivalence

Alistair MacDonald

  • Year of composition: 2007
  • Duration: 12:44
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 24 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 32 bits

Like Carl Andre’s minimalist sculpture (Equivalent VIII), the uniform, hard surfaces of building bricks are the focus of this piece. They provide an extraordinary sonic terrain whose detailed exploration spans dense, multilayered textures and delicate scraping.

[i-18]


Equivalence was realized in 2007 in the studios of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) and premiered on March 3, 2007 during the Invisible Art concert series produced by BEAST at the CBSO Centre in Birmingham (UK).


Premiere

  • March 3, 2007, Invisible Art — Concert 4: InvisiblEARts, CBSO Centre, Birmingham (England, UK)

Wunderkammer

Alistair MacDonald

  • Year of composition: 2010
  • Duration: 11:06
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 24 bits
  • 44,1 kHz, 32 bits

Wunderkammer is a sonic cabinet of curiosities evoking Alfred Russel Wallace’s 19th century travels in Malaysia and Indonesia, where he collected and catalogued every living creature he could find.

“When I reached England in the spring of 1862, I found myself surrounded by a room full of packing cases containing the collections that I had, from time to time, sent home for my private use. These comprised nearly three thousand birdskins of about one thousand species, at least twenty thousand beetles and butterflies of about seven thousand species, and some quadrupeds and land shells besides. A large proportion of these I had not seen for years, and in my then weakened state of health, the unpacking, sorting, and arranging of such a mass of specimens occupied a long time…

I find that my Eastern collections amounted to:

  • 310 specimens of Mammalia.
  • 100 specimens of Reptiles.
  • 8,050 specimens of Birds.
  • 7,500 specimens of Shells.
  • 13,100 specimens of Lepidoptera.
  • 83,200 specimens of Coleoptera.
  • 13,400 specimens of other Insects.
  • 125,660 specimens of natural history in all.”

(The Malay Peninsula, Alfred Russel Wallace, 1869)

One hundred and fifty years later, I visited some of the vibrant, sonorous jungle Wallace had explored and made my own collection of sounds. I imagine the insects, and the fish, “all well preserved in… hundreds of glass jars,” neatly arranged in ‘cabinets of curiosities.’

[i-18]


Wunderkammer was realized in 2010 in the studios of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) and premiered on November 13, 2010 at the MacRobert Building, University of Aberdeen (Scotland, UK) during the Sound Festival.


Premiere

  • November 13, 2010, Sound Festival 2010, Electroacoustic Fair: Gig 5: invisiblEARts, MacRobert Building — University of Aberdeen – Lecture Theatre, Aberdeen (Scotland, UK)

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