by Liz Dunbar @HuntSchoolMusic
Saariaho is probably the composer from the Edexcel set works list that you are least likely to have come across before. It's this work that students often find hardest to write about, yet they are fascinated by its timbral world. The place we tend to begin, is with an exploration of the heirarchy of elements in different styles . We talk about which elements are in the foreground of this work and which are pushed back - some almost eliminated altogether. It's a great starting point for composing and improvising too. e.g. creating two contrasting ideas using texture, or duration or timbre alone.
This work really makes us listen. In analysing performances where reverb and harmonizer are used, it's interesting to discuss the contrasts between, and combinations of live instrumental and electronic/manipulated sound. We often compare this work with others that explore the symbiosis of the acoustic and electronic.
Petals is a remarkable work, full of contrast; light and dark, fragile and energetic, and as it evolves these contrasting worlds become less and less distinct from one another.
Here's an ever evolving playlist to provide you with plenty of wider listening references to use in questions 5 and 6.