Australian composer James Ledger

See How They Run
2012 – 8 mins
violin and portable audio player
Premiere: 10 February 2013 – Callaway Auditorium, The University of WA - Paul Wright

Play sample

As many of us know, See How They Run is a line from the nursery rhyme “Three Blind Mice”. Like many nursery rhymes, the prose is very macabre – something you don’t realise as a child. This piece is a short, showy piece for violin solo and portable audio player that uses the first three descending notes of the nursery rhyme in its motivic material, although most of the instances of these notes are fairly disguised.

This piece shows my preoccupation with two-part forms. The inclusion of a portable audio player in the second part takes me back to my first year as an undergraduate in the School of Music at the University of Western Australia. The year was 1984 and CD players were only newly available – and very expensive. I waited another three years before getting my first CD player. At the time, the technology was utterly incredible: here was a machine containing a laser that could read digital information from a disc and playback music. We can all see how technology has run in those last 30 years. The piece can be played with either a CD player or a more modern MP3 player.

There are 9 short fragments included on the CD that are played back in 'shuffle' mode. This allows the fragments to be played back in a random order, and a quick calculation means that there are over 360,000 possible orders. Each fragment is made up of violin samples from the first half of the piece that have been reversed along with a heavily filtered drum machine (that coincidentally I got in my first year at university). The violin on the CD was performed by Paul Wright who also gave the premiere performance.

See How They Run was commissioned by the University of Western Australia as part of its centenary celebrations in 2013.

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