Melodies For Orchestra

year: 1983    instrumentation: 3222; 4331; 2perc, pf, hp; strings   
published: Wai-te-ata Music Press
commissioned by: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the centenary of the University of Auckland   
on Jack Body: Pulse (Rattle/Dan Poynton)

This work reflects my developing interest in the incredible diversity of melodic forms and styles as found outside the traditions of Western art music. The basis of the piece is a series of three transcriptions which I notated from recordings. The first is a Greek fiddle tune Horos Serra borrowed from a recording of Greek folk music; the second is a fragment for solo bamboo flute (saluang) which introduces a kind of sung poetry from West Sumatra; the third Hindi film theme as played by a street band in Pune, India, an ensemble comprising four clarinets, two trumpets and two drums. (The latter two recordings I made my self).

These transcriptions for orchestra attempt to capture something of the style of playing and timbre of the original performances. Around these more or less literal reproductions I have added an orchestral fabric whose purpose is to create coherence and continuity within the work. I am not able to justify bringing together three different musics which are so unrelated culturally speaking – my intention is simply to try to convey something of the joy and excitement I experienced when I encountered each one for the first time.

Jack Body discusses Melodies for Orchestra with Jim Svejda, below.

click here for Melodies For Orchestra at SOUNZ