Joy (2014) 20′
for Amplified Ensemble

3 electric guitars, electric bass/double bass, prepared percussion, prepared piano, flute/alto flute/piccolo, Eb Clarinet/Bass Clarinet,
​Tenor Trombone/Bass Trombone, violin, viola & cello

I – The Joy of Rumba
II – The Joy of Jigs
III – The Joy of Sex
IV – The Joy of Sebene

Commissioned by The Crash Ensemble with a Commissions Award from the Arts Council of Ireland.
​Premiered by The Crash Ensemble with Niwel Tsumbu and Dave Flynn on 20th March 2014 in Cork Opera House, Ireland.


Programme Poem

Just as I was at the point of completing this piece
My Dad passed away suddenly, unexpectedly
Thoughts of Joy turned quickly to shock and grief
My mind struggled with how I could finish this piece
With my father passing away, so suddenly, unexpectedly
How to find Joy in shock and grief?

Then I recalled the point of composing this piece
I was tired of the overload of pain and misery
In the media, in film, in music, in me
Then I recalled the amount of well wishers
Who came to pay their last respects
To my father at his funeral in Dalkey
It became clear to me then that his life
brought so much Joy to the world.
This gave me the strength to go on.

So I returned to the motivation I had for composing this piece
To bring back the concept of Joy to Western ‘concert’ music
Joy used to be an essential ingredient of Western ‘concert’ music
Until ‘serious’ composers and critics took hold
Of the moral aesthetic of composition trends
Purely joyful music became something ‘old’
But in the other styles of music I cherish Joy still abounds
Pop, Rock, Trad & African music are regularly imbued with joyful sounds
What joy there is in modern ‘art’ music is often tainted with jarring discords
It seems we’re unable to find unadulterated joy in unadulterated noise

So it’s out with the noise and in with the groove
Of Niwel Tsumbu

There’s Joy in Rumba, Joy in Jigs, Joy in Sex, Joy in Sebene
There’s Joy to be found in African music even when expressing pain
The joy Africans find in the hardest places gets them through vicious days
There’s joy in the African music that inspired this piece
Congolese legends like Franco ét L’TPOK Jazz
Zaiko Langa Langa, Grand Kalle ét L’African Jazz
The Lion of Zimbabwe Thomas Mapfumo
Toumani Diabate, the Kora Virtuoso
There’s Joy in the modern pop evolution of 80’s synthesized sounds
Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend and Phoenix top the class
The 80’s brought brief Joy back into contemporary classical sounds
John Adams, Steve Reich and prolific Philip Glass
I’m an 80’s child so perhaps I’m just nostalgic for childhood toys
Life was much simpler then, it was so easy to express Joy
Everything gets too serious when we grow up
Everything gets way too serious when we grow up
Everything gets really far too serious when we grow up
I don’t wanna ‘grow up’, we should we have to ‘grow up’?
I want to experience unadulterated joy once again

So I’m doing it with 3 electric guitars, electric bass & double bass, prepared percussion, prepared piano, flute, alto flute & piccolo, Eb Clarinet & Bass Clarinet, Tenor Trombone & Bass Trombone, violin, viola and violoncello and a joyful melange of household objects at the end.

I put a serious amount of work into this work, but it’s not a ‘serious’ work
It’s not for academics to analyse or criticise.
It’s a Western concert party piece.
It’s time to Crash the Party.

Dave Flynn February 2014

The composer dedicated the world premiere performance of ‘Joy’ to the memory of his father Frank Flynn (1944-2014) RIP.