Ensemble Offspring | Fractured Again

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Fractured Again

by Ensemble Offspring

Conceived by Damien Ricketson, Fractured Again is a striking audio-visual work exploring the fragile medium of glass.
Genre: Avant Garde: Modern Composition
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Fractured Again: Movement 1 (Section 1)
5:14 album only
2. Fractured Again: Movement 1 (Section 2)
5:31 album only
3. Fractured Again: Movement 1 (Section 3)
4:05 album only
4. Fractured Again: Movement 1 (Section 4)
8:33 $0.99
5. Fractured Again: Movement 3
12:08 $0.99
6. Fractured Again: Movement 4 (Section 1)
5:27 $0.99
7. Fractured Again: Movement 4 (Section 2)
4:31 $0.99
8. Fractured Again: Movement 5 (Section 1)
6:49 $0.99
9. Fractured Again: Movement 5 (Section 2)
4:22 $0.99
10. Fractured Again: Movement 5 (Section 3)
3:37 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Fractured Again
multimedia work for clarinet, violin, vibraphone, glass percussion, glass harmonica and electronics

About the work:

“Legend said that its players went mad, their nerves shredded by its clarity of sound… it was so beautiful that it stung the brain.”
Bruce Sterling, Science-fiction writer. Description of a future Glass Harmonica performance

Future images are often founded in the objects of the past. In trying to compose as of yet unheard music I find myself drawn to that which has fallen silent. Lost and forgotten musics are a creative impetus for me. The relics of such musics – ancient manuscripts, depictions of instruments, even legends or fables about music – provide a rich landscape of musical ruins; not for historical reconstruction but for fantasy. The Glass Harmonica, its angelic sound, its beautiful repertory, its reputation for triggering insanity and its virtual extinction was fertile ground to explore in the creation of Fractured Again.

The fact that the instrument is made of glass makes it distinctive. The medium of glass – from ancient Mesopotamian beads to gleaming city towers – captures paradoxical impressions of antiquity and modernity. Reflecting and refracting the world around it, the optical qualities of glass have made the medium visually and conceptually central to object arts, as well as installation, architecture and poetic imagery. The musical qualities of glass, however, remain a poor cousin. Obscure as it may seem today, the Glass Harmonica is but one example of a rich and diverse world of glass-derived sound. From the ancient sounds of the Chinese Shui Chan or Arabic Tusut to the contemporary sounds of Toronto’s Glass Orchestra or the sculpted (and sometimes blood-spattered) noise of Sydney’s Lucas Abela, the sounds of glass are numerous if not ubiquitous. One of the most noteworthy contributions to the world of glass music comes from the Melbourne-based Glass Percussion Project. Founded by installation artist Elaine Miles and percussionist Eugene Ughetti, several of Elaine’s glass instruments are featured in Fractured Again including chimes, a glass xylophone and glass panels.

The metaphor of glass in Fractured Again, however, runs more deeply than the use of glass instruments as a sound source. Much of the music scored for the more conventional instruments of clarinet, violin and vibraphone has been derived from repertoire written for the Glass Harmonica. For example, there is a faint reflection of Mozart’s Adagio for Glass Harmonica in a clarinet solo towards the centre of the work and a couple of allusions to the ‘God Music’ movement of George Crumb’s Black Angels; a contemporary string quartet that included a symbolic Glass Harmonica in the form of bowed crystal glasses. The references to Mozart and Crumb, however, are misshapen as though they were viewed through a strange and distorted lens. The most tangible reference occurs at the opening of Fractured Again with a rewrite of the ‘mad scene’ from Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor. When Lucia descends into madness after she kills her unwanted husband, her beautiful aria was originally to be accompanied by a Glass Harmonica (in most productions this melody is played by a flute). In Fractured Again, this scene is quite literally ‘fractured’ into thousands of pieces and reassembled like a mosaic, each tiny shard collated to gradually reveal a new form.

The process of fracturing time is also characteristic of the electronic music technique of granular synthesis where the looping and reordering of microscopic samples are used to create something new out of something old: a musical approach that is exemplified by Pimmon whose electronic music in Fractured Again is also mostly derived from the sound of glass.

The theme of glass forms a conceptual gathering point by which diverse media, sound-sources and approaches to composition are melded into a multifaceted whole. Although the presence of the Glass Harmonica is felt throughout Fractured Again, it is heard only fleetingly towards the end of the work. Just as relics remain evocative by what is missing, the reputation of the instrument - the idea of the instrument - resonates more loudly than its delicate actuality. With its reputation preceding it, the instrument finally awakens with a strangely frail and softly-spoken passage before receding into a future no less fragile than its past.
- Damien Ricketson, Composer

This recording is the stereo version of a limited-edition DVD including immersive video art from Andrew Wholley, surround sound and unique glass and metal packaging. The DVD is available here: http://www.curiousnoise.com/Shop.html


Concept/composer: Damien Ricketson
Electronic Music: Pimmon
Video: Andrew Wholley
Violin: James Cuddeford
Percussion: Claire Edwardes
Clarinet: Jason Noble
Sound Design: Bob Scott
Installation Art: Elaine Miles

Fractured Again was commissioned with the support of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, the City of Sydney, and the MLC School Burwood.

Premiered by Ensemble Offspring at the 2010 Sydney Festival at the Great Hall, University of Sydney.

This DVD has been made possible with the support of the Sydney Conservatorium, University of Sydney.

Ensemble Offspring would like to extend a special acknowledgement to June Treadwell and the late Allan Nuske for making available the Glass Harmonica used in this recording.



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