Music

Compositions

Sinfonia

Ed Hughes (2018) 

Sinfonia is the Italian word for symphony. It derives from 'the Greek syn (‘together’) and phōnē (‘sounding’), and thence from the Latin symphonia'. (Cusick & Larue, 2001). My Sinfonia is a creative response to the transition from voices to instruments that characterised music in England between 1415 and 1611.

In this sense, it forms a survey of six very different works by six composers:
Anonymous, John Cooke, John Dunstaple, Thomas Tallis, Orlando Gibbons, Christopher Tye
Each of my source texts has its own section or movement, like separate chapters or case studies.

The six 'source texts' are varied - they range from vernacular song, to polyphonic Latin motet, to viol consort music for domestic use.

Sinfonia deliberately uses the vivid resources of today's contemporary classical instruments. But it intersects imaginatively with some of England's earliest music conceived and written down for voices.

Through the act of composing Sinfonia, I created six views on the question what happens when a composer consciously references or models the music of the past, and transforms it, in a new composition?

Further information

Cuckmere: a portrait

Ed Hughes (2018)

An original 30 minute score for chamber orchestra and electronics composed by Ed Hughes between 2016 and 2018 as part of a collaboration with film-maker Cesca Eaton, called Cuckmere: A Portrait. The collaboration resulted in a portrait in silent film and music of the river Cuckmere over four seasons. The experience is of a journey through time and space: the visual sequences track the river from source to sea and from ground to aerial shots as the seasons change, just as the music's harmonies and textures modulate with the landscape's colours. There are moments of defamiliarisation where the familiar landscape is radically transformed by snow or an impossibly high birds' eye view: the music embraces these sudden shifts by mapping them through coloristic changes, and orchestral and electronic effects.

Cuckmere Haven is a natural environment of outstanding beauty where coast meets sea on the South Coast of England. Our project depicts a year in the life of Cuckmere in 2016/17 at a time in which change is expected due to changes in policy about sea defences. As artists, silent film-maker and composer, we wanted to use moving images and music to record two main aspects simultaenously through a kind of poetic film: a year in Cuckmere across changing seasons (time); the river's journey from source to sea (space). The intersection of silent film and music produces effects and unique properties which are unavailable in conventional sound film and documentary. These include the potential to reveal landscape through a 'choreography' that interlaces picture and music, to heighten sensitivity to shapes and phenomena of the natural world, and that music in combination with carefully curated images can make the beats and patterns of passing seasons and the passage of time more visible.

Further information

Brighton: symphony of a city

Thynne, Lizzie and Hughes, Ed (2018) .The content

The project, originally conceived as a live cinema event for the Brighton Festival, 2016 re-interprets 'the city symphony', a key film genre of the silent era through a collaboration between Thynne as director and Ed Hughes as composer. It explores how the symphonic might be conceived to evoke a modern city in images and music through commenting on and mimicking Berlin: Symphony of a City (Ruttmann, 1927), a film at the heart of discussions about the relation of the 'poetic' and 'political' in documentary. It is inspired by Guy Maddin's suggestion that the potential of one technology, in the case silent film is never usually exhausted before another - here the 'talkies' succeeds it, and addresses the challenge of a purely visual evocation where meaning is created through graphic montage, and musical juxtaposition. By producing a musical, associative structure rather than one led by sound, speech and narrative it draws on the marginalized strand of documentary history represented by Berlin, A propos de Nice (Vigo, 1929) and Rain (Ivens,1930) which emphasizes the visual potential of the medium to imagine space and place. Symphonic form - the bringing together of diverse elements of the city into a set of movements - gives shape and pace to disparate activities and events; freedom from conventional story form allows for the serendipitous and the everyday to be foregrounded creating what Taussig suggests is 'a peripheral vision' not studied contemplation, a knowledge that is imageric and sensate rather than ideational.'

Shortlisted for BAFTSS practice-led research awards, 2017.  

Symphonic Visions: music for silent films by Ed Hughes

A DVD release comprising five original musical compositions (composed 2015-2017) to accompany silent films ranging in dates from 1902 to 2016, all viewable on this disc. Including Brighton: Symphony of a City (2016) by Lizzie Thynne (University of Sussex). Also including an essay by Prof Mervyn Cooke (University of Nottingham). Cooke describes this album as 'a complex meditation on general issues of darkness and light, both moral and musical'. Released on Metier Records (USA) in February 2018.

Further information

War Poems: the dead returning lightly dance

Evelyn Ficarra (2016)

War Poems: the dead returning lightly dance is a 23’ chamber piece for mixed ensemble and recorded spoken word commissioned by Poems on the Underground and premiered by the Apollo Chamber Orchestra (conducted by David Chernaik) on the 2nd of November, 2016, at the London Transport Museum. Instrumentation: flute, clarinet, trumpet, 2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, double bass, 2 percussionist and electroacoustic sounds. The electroacoustic sounds are made from recordings the composer made of native speakers reciting international war poetry from the period, each poem in its original language. The music is composed around these recordings but also has its own structure and identity. In the performance, poet Michael Rosen read out each poem in translation in between the movements.

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Alice in wonderland

Ed Hughes, 2015

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2015)

flute
clarinet
violin
cello
piano

9’30"

written for The New Music Players and Orchestra of Sound and Light for concerts in London and Sussex with funding support from the RVW Trust and Arts Council England

Alice in Wonderland is a score in three main sections, inspired by a short film of the same name from 1903 by Hepworth and Stow. The film stars May Clark as Alice. In 2010 the BFI restored and released the remaining fragments of the film. It lasts approximately 9’30”.

The film is fascinating because it is a very early attempt to transfer an extended children’s novel to the screen. As is usual in the early days of cinema, it presents a series of vignettes or scenes from a well-known story. It is also very engaging because it uses special effects and trick photography to create the atmosphere of a dream world of fantasies and anxieties.

I wanted to work with an early film that would capture the interest of non-specialist audiences including school children and to create a score that could enable them to participate musically.

The core ensemble of flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello establishes the pulse and the main pitch centres. Throughout the first section the pulse is clear and the pitch centre is C. In the second section, there is a more complex approach to rhythm, but throughout the piano and the cello provide the main pulse and rhythm, and the chords will always work with the note E. In the third section, the ideas of the first section are explored and developed.

When the Flame Dies

Ed Hughes, Roger Morris, 2012, When the Flame dies, University of York Music Press

A Mother should be loved

Ed Hughes, 2011, A Mother should be loved, BFI Vol: BFI10

I was born but...

Ed Hughes, 2011, I was born but..., BFI Vol: BFI10

Rondes d'Automne

Martin Butler, 2011, Rondes d'Automne, Oxford University Press

Rumba Machine

Martin Butler, 2011, Rumba Machine Oxford University Press

A Buried Flame

Ed Hughes, 2010, A Buried Flame, University of York Music Press

Chamber Concerto

Ed Hughes, 2010, Chamber Concerto, University of York Music Press

Scarlatti Arrangements Sonata in D (K. 119), Sonata in E (K. 215)

Martin Butler, 2010, Scarlatti Arragements Sonata in D (K. 119), Sonata in E (K. 215), Oxford University Press

Mas Ballet con Salsa

Martin Butler, 2010, Mas Ballet con Salsa, Oxford University Press

Concerto for Soprano Saxophone

Martin Butler, 2009, Concerto for Soprano Saxophone, Oxford University Press

From the Fairground of Dreams

Martin Butler, 2008, From the Fairground of Dreams, Oxford University Press

Walden Snow

Martin Butler, 2008, Walden Snow, Oxford University Press