“The spread of civilisation may be likened to a fire; first, a feeble spark, next a flickering flame, then a mighty blaze, ever increasing in speed and power.”
―Nikola Tesla, What Science May Achieve This Year (1910)
To be asked to compose a barnburner of a program closer for the great Dame Evelyn Glennie and the Land’s End Ensemble is unquestionably an honor – and also a challenge, one to which I rose with great joy. As a metal guitarist by training and temperament, I am inevitably inclined to try to write the most powerful, virtuosic, metal piece I can.
Incinerate takes its spark from a single groove, or rhythmic paern, that haunted my thoughts and dreams for months. Its propulsive drive and angular, off-kilter profile insisted upon my consciousness with a persistence that I could not ignore or suppress: this had to be the heart of the piece.
Like Prometheus’s initial flame taking on a life of its own and leading to the spread of a civilization, this musical spark sets off tentatively at the top, presented first by the piano in abbreviated form amongst the kindling of the percussion’s steady patter. Quickly that spark cascades across the musical texture, becoming all-consuming as the piece’s narrative leads to dramatic crescendos, dreamy soundscapes, and violent breakdowns.
My deepest thanks to Evelyn Glennie and to Vincent Ho for making this project happen and entrusting me with the metaphorical lighter with which to spark our shared conflagration.
Percussion (1 player)
Station 1 :
Drums (standing player, with sticks and bow):
kick drum, bass drum, 4 toms, snare drum,
cowbell, hi-hat, splash, stack, crash, china
Kick drum (with marimba)
Piano (full stick)
Conductor (optional but recommended)
The entire ensemble should be amplified to balance the strings, piano, mallet instruments, drums, and electronics.
• Strings: individually close-miked with condenser microphones (preferably small-diaphragm condenser for the
violin and large-diaphragm condenser for the cello).
• Piano: stereo pair of condensers.
• Drum set: at minimum, a pair of overheads and spots on the snare and kick drum; preferably, a pair of
overheads and spots on snare, kick, and each tom.
• Vibraphone: pair of overheads
• Marimba & kick drum: pair of overheads on marimba and spot on the kick.
Some reverb should be mixed into the individual instrument signals to ensure a lush and balanced sonic image.