Carved Forms: for flute and piano accordion

Philip Grange (Composer)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


This work was commissioned with funds from the Britten-Pears Foundation by Will Sleath (flute) and Miloš Milivojević (accordion), who gave its premiere in Penzance in April 2017.

The research focus for this composition was Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures and writings on the creative process. It explored her claim that ‘Before I can start carving the idea must be almost complete. I say “almost” because the really important thing seems to be the sculptor’s ability to let his intuition guide him over the gap between conception and realization without compromising the integrity of the original idea’ (‘Approach to Sculpture’ (1946)). While this statement was reflected in the compositional process – individual movements and the overall balance of movements were pre-planned, the details within each movement were not – the principal objective was to engage with her concern with carving and creating different forms from the same basic material.

The project sought to find musical analogies for this process by investigating the different possibilities for set-theory parsing of Mode VI of limited transposition. Preparatory research demonstrated that the mode comprises two interleaved transpositions of the all-trichord hexachord 6Z-17 and a combination of discreet interleaved versions of the all-interval tetrachords 4Z-15 and 4Z-29. A systematic methodology was used to develop multiple characteristics of the mode, from the juxtaposition of 4Z-15 and 4Z-29 in movement I, to the modally saturated chords in movements II and V, to the use of 6Z-17 in movements III and IV. Thus, the same mode is ‘carved’ in different ways. Although Messiaen employed modes of limited transposition and Carter used set theory (anticipating Forte’s nomenclature), a methodical combination of the two techniques has not previously been attempted. The research therefore provided insights into ways in which this methodology can be used to create material that has profile yet is flexible and malleable.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherEdition Peters Group
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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