Caliban Impromptu

for violin, cello, piano, tape and mixer.

Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices That, if I then had waked after long sleep, Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming, The clouds methought would open and show riches Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked, I cried to dream again.

The Tempest III, ii

What's the air that moves the leaves in the trees? Where does music come from? Who first hears it? How can magic be stroked from a wooden box with gut and hair? This piece is nothing but thievery anyway, it all belongs to Schubert.

A monk asked Ts’ao-shan: “Master, what is the way?” “A dragon singing in a dry wood.” “I wonder whether there is anyone who is able to hear this song?” “There is no-one in the entire world who does not hear it.” “I can’t imagine what kind of music the dragon’s song might be.” “I don’t know either; but all who hear it lose themselves.”

Caliban Impromptu was commissioned by the Cheltenham Festival where it was first performed by the Orion Trio, and the composer at the mixer, in 1972.

DL, 1985