Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Pulse Sampler

Sir Harrison Birtwistle Pulse Sampler
Pulse Sampler

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Pulse Sampler

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Scored for:
for oboe and claves
Sir Harrison Birtwistle
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Pulse Sampler

Work introduction

In many of his works Birtwistle has been much occupied with the phenomenon of pulse, with manoeuvres among different rates of pulsation and with polyphonies of layer beating at different speeds. Pulse Sampler, as its title indicates, is no exception. The percussionist, playing claves (hard wooden sticks), is given a 'pulse mobile' consisting of simple rhythmic units to be played continuously, though the task is considerably complicated by the frequent tempo changes.

The oboist generally takes his or her pulse from the percussionist, but each time the rhythm is thus sampled and brought into the realm of pitched sound, the percussion pulse changes, so that the oboe is usually a step behind. This brings about a friction which breaks up the simple repetition with which the piece opens and generates wide[-] ranging melodies and musical ideas all the more surprising for the hard framework of regularity, music stitched to pulse as a sampler of the composer's and the oboist's virtuosity.

Paul Griffiths

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World première

Huddersfield (GB)
Main soloists:
Melanda Maxwell, Oboe; John Harrod, Claves

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