Lanterns

Lanterns

Music by Haworth Hodgkinson

High Moss HM 016 (68:08) • Released 27 February 2018

All music composed, performed and recorded by Haworth Hodgkinson in 2016 and 2017

Cover from a photograph by Haworth Hodgkinson

Album © Haworth Hodgkinson 2018

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Lanterns

These two pieces relate to the two largest towns in Aberdeenshire, the ports of Fraserburgh and Peterhead, and in particular the lighthouse at Kinnaird Head in Fraserburgh and the long pier that forms the South Breakwater in Peterhead, with one of the harbour lights at its north end. The album cover shows a smaller lantern in the much smaller harbour of Buchanhaven, a fishing village that has now become surrounded by the suburbs of Peterhead.

Both pieces use keyboards modified by live software processing, adding resonance and reverberation in Kinnaird Head and modifying the tuning in South Breakwater. Each uses an intuitive music approach in which a rough outline is predetermined but the detailed realisation takes place only during performance and recording.

Kinnaird Head (2017)

I was once fortunate enough to be invited to spend the night in the lighthouse at Kinnaird Head, Fraserburgh, now part of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses. We spent most of the night in the lantern itself, no longer lit, watching darkness falling to summer twilight then dawn rising to morning. In the early part of the night there was plenty of activity from passing gulls and humans, but my strongest memories are of the quieter part of the night, and those are reflected in this piece. I've always been fascinated by the point of transition where late night becomes early morning, and on this particular night that transition was marked by a sudden moonrise erupting from the sea. The colours of the sky and sea became brighter and richer until we witnessed the sunrise, and at the moment of sunrise a minke whale swam past close to shore.

The music is a keyboard solo, recorded in a single take, with software adding long resonances and reverberations. Single notes and isolated chords trace a melodic line that gradually evolves over the course of the piece.

South Breakwater (2016)

Many harbour towns have a South Breakwater, but the one I refer to in the title of this piece is one of the two long piers that form the entrance to Peterhead harbour. The pier is often busy with cargo operations, but even so it is open to the public for much of the time. Most visitors use it for fishing, but I find it a welcome spot for quiet contemplation, particularly on summer evenings when the harbour operations have quietened down.

The music is conceived for multiple keyboards tuned to 19-tone equal temperament and is written using an intuitive approach: the players are given a set of six musical cells and instructions as to how a performance will be constructed from these cells, but the detailed realisation is left to the performers. I have rehearsed the piece with the ensemble Intuitive Music Aberdeen, both in 19-tone tuning and in conventional 12-tone tuning. The technical challenges of using keyboards hooked up to laptops to produce the 19-tone tuning have discouraged me from attempting a live performance, but the 12-tone version could easily be performed live on multiple keyboards.

It's the curiously unfamiliar yet harmonious effect of the 19-tone tuning though that is for me the real essence of this piece, and on this recording I multitrack four parts in 19-tone tuning. The recording was made before I had finalised and written out the intuitive score, and there are occasionally small deviations from the rules of the piece, but I still have a fondness for this first recording, which is why I chose to release it here rather than re-recording a version more faithful to the rules.

Notes © Haworth Hodgkinson 2018.

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