to another of that other

For Trumpet, Trombone, Clarinet and/or Large Ensemble or Orchestra

to another of that other opens with three soloists arranged as a quasi duet: the bass clarinet and trombone acting as one sonic entity, and the trumpet as another. As the piece progresses, this structure dissolves into three independent lines, which struggle to find a unified balance. Smaller, strained voices emerge that lead to a transformation for each soloist, as they metamorphosise into each others characters: the bass clarinet slowly transforming into the pale trumpet voice of the opening, the trombone stuck between the bass clarinet and the trumpet’s characters, and the trumpet becoming a dual character, having to simultaneously embody/speak the harsh opening voices of both the trombone and the bass clarinet.

The soloists of the piece are often accompanied by their corresponding instruments in the orchestra: the trumpet with three trumpets, the trombone with two tenor trombones and a bass trombone, and the bass clarinet with two clarinets and a bass clarinet. These identical “triplets” serve to highlight the voice of each of the soloists, as well as providing a protective haze around them as they transform in the orchestral landscape.

The timpani, the three percussionists, and the harp combine to form what I think of as giant rotational device, which assists with the transformation of the soloists in the piece, slowly rotating them from one place to another. This axis comprises two components: the three percussionists forming one half of the axis, initially accompanying the trombone and bass clarinet, and the timpani and harp forming the other half, initially accompanying the trumpet. As the axis slowly rotates throughout the piece, these components begin to swap their accompanying roles, drawing each of the soloists into their new characters, and opening the door to the extensions of these characters: the background forces.

There are initially two main background forces in the piece with a third force developing later in the piece. These are thought of as three extensions of the soloist’s characters, giving further clarity to the narrative of metamorphosis that takes place in the piece, as if the soloists are at the tip of a much bigger sound mass happening behind them. The first background force is connected to the opening trumpet character – the piccolo, flutes, oboes, first and second violins create a pale, still line, which the trumpet voice quietly emerges and develops from. The intensely raucous second background comprises bassoons, tuba, violas, cellos, and double basses, a dense texture that the fractured voices of the trombone and bass clarinet evolve from. A third background forms, where the french horns begin to represent the in-between-ness of the solo trombone, as it gets lost in the energy of transformation.

The piece being a quasi-palindrome, the transferences of these instrumental energies and characters combine to create a rich, intertwined sonic fabric of overlapping worlds, a state of infinite and immeasurable timelessness, between moving backward and forward, between hearing and rehearing, between the beginning and the end. Hence the title, to another of that other, taken from Samuel Beckett’s Company: “If the voice is not speaking to him it must be speaking to another. So with what reason remains he reasons. To another of that other. Or of him. Or of another still. To another of that other or of him or of another still.”


Listen to the orchestral version of the piece, performed by ELISION and The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, conducted by Gavin Maloney:


Look at an excerpt from the score: to_another_score_extract


Listen to the trio version of the piece – Tpt, Tbn, Bcl only, performed by ELISION:


Watch a video of the trio and ensemble version of the piece, performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble at Miller Theatre: