Quirk No.5 ‘Horrific Spasm’

Quirk No.5 ‘Horrific Spasm’ (2002) – 6’
(fl/picc, Bbcl/Ebcl, vn, vc, pf, xyl/vib)

MIDI Recording

Programme Note


The title ‘Horrific Spasm’ comes from a remark I heard the composer John Adams make about Stravinsky. In an interview at the BBC Proms Adams was asked if his musical style was likely to change much over the coming years. In his response he said it probably would but that he was unlikely to have a horrific spasm like Stravinsky had when he changed from neo-classicism to twelve-tone technique!

That inspired me to write a piece where the music would begin with beautifully harmonious sounds which would gradually grow into a hypnotic ostinato over which canonic melodies occur but then suddenly the music spasms horrifically into relentless dissonant music. This piece naturally owes something to both John Adams and Igor Stravinsky, two composers who I admire a lot.

Horrific Spasm has yet to be performed