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Wind Turbines



Looking back over some previous musical ideas, I kept being drawn to the previous ideas of Windmills and seasonal change. There was something about being in the presence of these huge white towers on a gusty autumn day that spoke volumes to me. I was initially drawn to the idea of rhythm as when standing under the blades of these towers you can hear nothing but the deep zchoom, zchoom, zchoom of the rotors however, inspiration finally came when observing the windmills from a medium distance and capturing the mesmerizing movement when all the blades were active at once.


The piece of music I created reflects my perspective, sitting amongst dozens of turbines watching their movements as the wind seems to become stronger and stronger. Initially a synth chord in Dmaj7 is held while eventually short notes enter as the observation of movement begins. Then one guitar enters followed by another and another all playing in unison a repetitive plucked Dmaj7 chord followed by Fm7 chord. This pattern repeats to the end of the piece. Another guitar enters playing single notes from the chords then an acoustic guitar plays a descending fingerpicking pattern. These two parts signify the movement of two particular turbines which appear to be in time but moving very differently from each other. The piece builds as the intensity of the scene is realised with the entrance of 3 electric guitars. A simple call and answer is played by them but in harmony to highlight position of the practitioner and enormity of the sound and sight.


After recently preparing for a presentation on the composer, Thea Musgrave, I have begun to realise the importance of perspective in the compositional process. Capturing a scene or image musically means creating time and story around what could be a memory or picture which only exists in stasis. As we see in her work War. The Exile and the Rock Limpet, she portrays Napoleon in exile reflecting on his victories and defeats whilst staring at a rock limpet on the beach. In Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps, Hannibal is portrayed as the leader pushing his army through a scene of horror and despair to achieve his goals. These perspectives are created from still paintings by William Turner. Musgrave has added story, perspective, felling and emotion musically to something captured in a single moment.


I used Thea Musgrave as a creative drive to set perspective of my character within the piece but also drew upon minimalism in its final conception. Throughout many of her compositions, Thea Musgrave has used a solo instrument to portray a character or moment, driving the story or creating interactions between soloist and orchestra. When drawing upon minimalism, particularly the four pioneers, Riley, Young, Reich and Glass, instruments do not generally stand out of the mix, there is no ‘I’m over here, look at me’ but prog rock instrumental composers such as Mike Oldfield certainly took use of solo instruments to highlight passages. The blend of multiple guitars is certainly meant to be reflective of the early pioneers of minimalism but I felt it irresistible not to have the solo harmonized guitars as a nod to the 1970’s instrumentalists who followed.

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©2017 by Jacob Hodge