Dethroning an Omnipotent God (2017)




Programme notes

In the concert hall, we are forced to experience sounds and music by the composers. Composers have sometimes been considered the most important aspect of music making because they provide the score to be performed, much like an omnipotent god dictates the actions of his creations. In ‘Dethroning an Omnipotent God’, the composer does not have total control over the events that will take place and what the audience will hear. Instead, the audience is given the opportunity to choose events and sounds whilst the players are free to interpret these ideas however they wish. Although there are some fixed ideas set by the composer, the idea of the composer being totally in control and the most powerful being within music making does not occur here. The composer sets up a space where music can occur rather than having control over what specific events will unfold.

Many thanks to James Whittle and the players of the Late Music Ensemble for all of their advice and ideas during the creation of this piece.

table example


Instructions for the audience:

1. This piece is written for 3 soloists or 3 groups of performers. The audience can choose the groups if more than 3 players are present, however, depending on time constraints the performers may choose instead.
2. Audience members choose what each group/ performer plays by adding the cards to the board. Each card and slot on the board lasts for 20 seconds.
3. There are also ‘fixed cards’ containing parts for all three groups. Audience members can choose to place these on the board within a 20-second slot.
4. There are more cards than blank spaces: they do not all have to go on the board and every performer does not have to be playing all the time.
5. There are also ‘fixed material’ cards created by the composer featuring scored music. They are fixed vertical units which also last 20 seconds. These can be placed anywhere on the board or not at all.

Instructions for the players:

1. This piece is written for 3 soloists or 3 groups of performers. The audience can choose the groups if more than 3 players are present, however, depending on time constraints the performers may choose instead.
2. A conductor should be present to cue changes and to provide tempo when necessary.
3. Performers should spend 20 seconds on each card before moving smoothly to the next card.
Performers can interpret what is written however they wish, including what octaves to play any written pitches etc.
4. On the individual cards with written pitches, tempo can be interpreted however the individual wishes. The fixed cards with all three groups are the only cards with a specific tempo.
5. If a percussionist using non-pitched instruments is present, they should follow the rhythms notated of melodic cells.
6. Most of the fixed cards do not have a specific time signature. The conductor should beat crotchets so players are in time. Repeat the written motifs until the next change.
7. Performers do not have to play what is asked of them if it is not feasible on their instrument- it is just as important to acknowledge when we can’t do something. If you are in groups of players, it is suggested to leave other members of the group to play what is written if they can.
8. Players can opt out of sections and leave other performers in the group to perform actions if they wish.
9. Techniques such as bow changes, breaths and any other practical performance issues are free for the performer to decide as necessary.


Late Music Ensemble conducted by James Whittle, York Unitarian Chapel, 01/07/2017
Recording engineered by Lynette Quek.