I was excited and challenged by the brief set me by the Hermes Experiment: to write a piece of music inspired by a photo. I felt there were various ways in which visual aspects of the photo might inspire the music. Moreover, since the photo will be projected on a screen during the performance of the piece, there are rich possibilities for audio-visual interaction – something I’ve always found mysterious and fascinating.
The piece I ended up writing, Predator Fish, is quite sectional in its structure; this, and the poetry which I’ve set, suggests a narrative. While some of the shade, shape and line of the picture (e.g. the overcast sky) influenced the spacious, harmonically ambiguous opening section, most of the influence of the photo came from the narrative I imagined. I imagined the photo as a scenario of societal oppression – a view influenced by the watchtower-like structure, the resistance graffiti, a same-sex relationship, the clandestine setting of a rooftop. I was moved by the affectionate embrace of the couple. To me it suggested a deep and devoted friendship; mutual support in the face of oppression.
The text I set covers various themes: dance and clubbing in the city, the love of Virginia Woolf for Vita Sackville-West, sex, letting the self ‘drain away’, the effects of beauty on the mind. This compiled text, while wide-ranging in theme, resonated for me with the ‘mood’ of the photo – a mood influenced by my imagined narrative. I compiled the text from poems by the Buddhist poet Yogaratna. As Yogaratna and I are a couple, writing this piece felt like both an exploration and expression of love.
Predator Fish will be premièred at Crypt on the Green on Saturday 20th June.