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'Extinction & Rebellion'

Violin, Piano. 2019. 16 min.

Purchase score coming soon.

The name of this work alludes to the protest movement raising awareness of the existential threat of climate change. The music explores the psychological states that I experienced associated with the realisation of this threat: from despair, to determined action. It is in two sections, corresponding to the title of the piece - the first, intensely lyrical, and the second, a rebellious double fugue. Each section is built on independent thematic material which is continuously developed throughout the work, and also recurs cyclically at key dramatic moments. The opening presents a lamenting melody set in the sorrowful lowest violin register. The key area dances around F# minor, but the piano makes heavy use of tritonal and semitonal dissonance in the context of extended triadic or quartal harmony to accentuate the mournful character of the melody. Whole-tonal harmony gives a sense of abandon to climactic moments. This harmonically dense and dissonant opening is contrasted by a transparent, simple, largely diatonic section featuring extended meditative double stops in the violin and arpeggiated chords in the piano. The ‘Extinction’ section is rounded off with a cyclic return of the opening theme, transformed in register and intensity. In stark contrast, ‘Rebellion’ is built up as a double fugue on a theme that includes the words ‘Extinction Rebellion!’ set rhythmically to music. This particular motif is frequently isolated and repeated. The fugue goes through a variety of episodes of increasing intensity and rage, including a three-part canon, until dying down to give way to one final emotional outburst of the ‘Extinction’ theme. A coda brings a sudden return of the fugue theme. The ending of the piece is given emphasis through a homorhythmic statement of the fugue subject, followed by a threefold repetition of the chant-like motif: ‘Extinction Rebellion!’.

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