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Black Sand

    2*2*2*2  4*3*3*1 Timpani (4 drums), 2 Perc, Piano, Harp, Strings [Percussion Requirements:  Percussion I: large tam-tam, large lion’s roar, vibraphone, 3 suspended cymbals (low, medium, high), xylophone, glockenspiel, large tom-tom.  Percussion II: bass d

    Duration: ca. 12 minutes
    Composed: 2009

    Programme Note: Black Sand was commissioned by James Sommerville, music director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, through a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. It was written between May and November of 2009, and lasts roughly 12 minutes.

    Black Sand was inspired by the world of metal work. Specifically, I was interested in making the comparison between the process of annealing (where metal is heated to a very high temperature and then allowed to cool slowly in order to remove any impurities) and the process of composing, which can be extremely intense. In researching types of metal work, I became fascinated with the making of samurai swords. Samurai swords are made from Tamagane which is a type of Japanese steel. The steel is made from black sand. The process of extracting and forging the steel is a traditional ritual that is preformed only three or four times a year under very specific conditions.

    Black Sand is a journey through colour, from dark and shadowy to bright and intense; warm and cool. There is an overall energy to the piece that is powerful yet controlled. My artistic volition is the black sand and the music is the tamagane. It has been forged and folded, heated and welded, quenched and polished. Through my lonely ritual, the music annealed.

    Premiere: First performance by the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Hamilton, Ontario, January 23, 2010.

    Score Excerpt [PDF]

    Kelly-Marie Murphy, composer