Arched Forms with Bells (1990)
solo organ - 16'
There are two arched forms. The first is on a horizontal plane. It stretches away from the listener at eye-level, and curves round on the distant horizon to return loud and bright as at the start. The second arched form comes from unknown sources, deep down and far away. It curves upwards towards the listener, where it is at its brightest, then falls away.
It is not the musical material, but the pitch and dynamic levels which determine the arches. Consequently, the first arched form sets out with a music in the middle-high register that is bright, full and strong. It stays in this register throughout, but the sounds gradually become cooler and more distant, as the music moves a very long way away from the listener. As it curves round on the distant horizon, returning as the second limb of the arch, the music is not the same as on the outward journey; there are new ideas.
Loud fanfares pulling against each other herald the start of the second arched form, and the first deep notes in the piece appear - cavernous pedal clusters. The music rears upwards towards the listener, incorporating new music, earlier material and the fanfares. Close to the listener, and near the top of the second arch, the opening material reappears, this time with impetuous lengthy pedal runs. The top of this arch is glittering and shining and culminates in music which is the loud counterpart of the distant, cold climax of the first arch. Both passages employ slowly rolling whole-hand clusters for the organist. Afterwards, still glowing, the music immediately begins to fade, and this arch returns to the darkness of its source. The end imitates the sound of church bells borne on the wind.
Arched Forms with Bells is one large slab of music created out of its own natural and underlying rhythmic currents. What are these 'Arched Forms'? Something dreamed up, but crystal clear in my imagination. They could be a simple sculpture; they could be built out of solid stone, like a building; or they could be delicate and astral, shafts of light with no material substance, that stretch out and up and beyond, over vast distances. But the shape is always the same, and the listener always stands at the beginning, and the end of the first, and at the apex of the second.
© Diana Burrell