Australian composer James Ledger

Intended Inventions
2017
22 mins
solo piano

Premiere: 4 March 2018 - Macedon Music, Lowland Farm, Mount Macedon, Victoria - Alex Raineri

PROGRAMME NOTE
Intended Inventions is a set of seven short piano pieces, each inspired by real-life inventions that either failed to eventuate, or have yet to be constructed. A brief description of each movement follows:
1. floating cities The concept behind this movement is ocean colonization. These imagined colonies exist on the ocean floor, float on the surface or exist somewhere in-between. The music here has a infinitely descending quality that ebbs and flows in bell-like, fluid motion for the most part. The music splits in two at the end and descends to the ocean floor.
2. docking zeppelins There is a famous photograph of an airship docking at the top of the Empire State Building. As it turns out, the photograph is a fake, but the idea of docking fare-going passengers at the 102nd floor above the busy streets of New York was apparently seriously considered. The image of those lumbering yet noble vehicles docking to mooring masts atop skyscrapers as wind eddies tusled them around was the inspiration for this movement.
3. god’s voice weapon A weapon that beams voices into people’s heads sounds like science fiction. However, the technology exists – when microwaves are beamed in short pulses, they can trigger the body’s auditory receptors in the same way that normal sound waves do. However, the huge amount of radiation actually ends up melting the brain before anyone actually gets to hear anything (including the voice of god). The music here is frenetic, dissonant and designed to get under your skin.
4. panacea is a supposed remedy to cure all diseases and even prolong life. Apparently, with all the advances in genetics, a panacea could exist within our lifetime. My initial reaction to this was “at what cost?”. The music in this movement reflects the potential dire side effects that could come from such a “miracle cure”.
5. space elevator is a proposed structure that extends from Earth way out beyond the atmosphere into space. The structure itself is basically a cable that remains taut due to the rotation of the Earth. Vehicles can climb the cable without the need for rocket propulsion. This movement is built around a repeating sequence of three chords that slowly contract in length. One hand travels cosmically fast, whilst the other is celestially slow. The piece ends with a series of punctuated, rapid-fire bass notes that resonate in the higher frequencies using the technique of silently depressing the keys in the upper register.
6. rocket belt Developed in the fifties, the rocket belt could fly a soldier a disappointingly short 120 metres and had no real way of performing a controlled landing should the rocket engine fail. Additionally, the pilot needed to wear thermal resistant clothing and a crash helmet with hearing protection due to the insanely loud volumes generated by the rocket. This movement was inspired by the less successful flights in which the pilot seems to be performing an awkward and quite precarious dance to get off the ground – not to mention the landing.
7. hyperloop is a theoretical low pressure tunnel that will be able to ferry cargo and passengers over large distances at very high speeds. The system is very efficient due to low friction and wind resistance. There is even a pipe dream to build one between North America and Europe. I imagined my tunnel to be the middle octave of the piano. The movement begins with tapping and after a while, individual notes start to sound before a rapid musical pattern enters. Finally, toward the end, the performer “breaks through” the silent middle octave, allowing the notes to sound and the tunnel is complete.

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