Archbold, Paul (2004) Recoil. (piano tape combination). score and compact disc. (Unpublished)


Recoil examines my personal experiences in recovering from a car accident. The word ‘recoil’ is used in two senses: to change speed and direction as a result of a collision; to shrink in fear. The work represents a labyrinth of memory, where the fragmented self confronts distorted realities and fearful illusions. Recoil builds upon the harmonic explorations of my string quartet Impacts and Fractures (1999): a ‘dominant seventh’ chord, partials 4-7 of the harmonic series, is tempered to the quarter-tone scale and elaborated to create a series of complex modes. These modes regulate all the melodic and harmonic material for both the soloist and the tape part. The tape part is derived entirely from the processed recording of an acoustic piano, and takes the role of a superinstrument that confronts, encompasses and absorbs the soloist. The work is a result of the extensive analysis and processing of melodic fragments, performed on the piano by myself, employing the recent IRCAM program ‘Audiosculpt’. These fragments are: transposed by microintervals to produce a harmonically rich chorus of arabesques; independently modified in pitch and tempo to realise rhythmically complex dialogues with the soloist; filtered and transposed to create a continuum of sounds ranging from a recognisable piano towards noise; greatly expanded in length to reveal a gradually unfolding, haunting soundworld. Spatialisation is central to the concept of the work: sounds are carefully positioned and moved in space to produce an unreal acoustic labyrinth surrounding the soloist.

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