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Cwmhiraeth
for solo alto flute

Work no. 198
2021

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    This is one of the satellite pieces of Many Pink Butterflies, derived from that work's Solo VIII. Each solo in MPB is about a minute long, and explores a single compositional technique. Usually, for a satellite piece based on a solo I would develop that technique further. In this case, however, Solo VIII had already been used to make ...au double regard et sept baigneuses. But I became really fond of the original melody, which ...au double regard didn't quite preserve. I ended up giving that melody its own piece – Cwmhiraeth, named after a tiny hamlet in Wales. The name roughly translates to "valley of longing", although "hiraeth" is a somewhat famous Welsh word which has no equivalent in English, a special kind of longing mixed with homesickness.

    In contrast to the earlier work, Cwmhiraeth is built very simply. It starts with an exact quote of the original solo, which gets a slightly warped reprise towards the end of the piece. In between, there is a sequence of slow two-note figures, playing ever widening intervals with long pauses between them. The last note of the reprise is followed by the final note of the piece, which is separated by another wide interval – both a continuation of the series of wide jumps, and its ending.

    For some time, I've been using Cwmhiraeth to gauge the level of my fatigue. The principal melody takes a little over a minute, and when I'm too tired, I can't really perceive it as a single entity. The wide two-note figures sound like fragments of a whole when I'm too exhausted, but when I'm alert enough, they each have a personality.


    Cwmhiraeth – PDF score  


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