Clod Ensemble's Co-Artistic Director Paul Clark, Composer for An Anatomie in Four Quarters, discusses the performance's score and the themes the music explores.
There’s a lot of different ways of looking at An Anatomie in Four Quarters – as an anatomy of a theatre, as an examination of how we look at the body and how we look at each other. Another way is as a kind of history of medicine – each quarter of the piece loosely reflects an era of cultural history.
I used this last theme as a way of structuring the score for the piece – each quarter has a different group of musicians and uses radically different compositional styles and techniques, although they actually share a lot of melodic material.
The first quarter is rooted in a pre-scientific world and my score, whilst it employs a lot of very contemporary computer techniques, is rooted in early music – it is heavily rhythmic and uses a lot of drones. I managed to fulfil an old ambition of writing something for an ancient Bulgarian bagpipe, here played by Galen Nikolov, as well as a huge range of percussion.
The second quarter is radically different and plunges itself into the enlightment – the music is heavily rule bound (there are two fugues) and inspired by baroque music. In Cardiff it will be played by string players from Sinfonia Cymru.
The third quarter takes us into the 19th and 20th century. Things get a lot more psychological and the music gets more emotionally raw – we have Melanie Pappenheim singing a solo song live and, later, the recorded voice of Natalie Raybould shrieking over the sound of live electric bass and drums, here played by Clod regular James Keane and brilliant young drummer Vanessa Domonique.
The forth and final section is the hardest to describe – it is takes us right up to the present and perhaps into the future. I’d only be guessing what music will sound like in the future (!) but in our piece the music has absorbed all of the previous themes and techniques and spun a new musical fabric out of them.
Listen to a sample of the score on the An Anatomie trailer