Voodoo Sonnets

Watch a performance of the second movement by Three 2016
18 mins
trumpet, trombone & electric guitar

Premiere: 23 February 2017
The Salon
Melbourne Recital Centre
Three: Joel Brennan - trumpet, Don Immel - trombone, Ken Murray - electric guitar


Voodoo Sonnets was commissioned by Melbourne-based ensemble Three. The trio consists of trumpet, trombone and electric guitar. I was immediately drawn to this unique and intriguing combination of instruments. The sonnets are precursory pieces to an orchestral piece I wrote immediately after this (Hollow Kings). The latter piece is being written to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death and it too has an electric guitar in its instrumentation. I thought of this instrument as a modern day lute – it was both ubiquitous and significant in Shakespeare’s time – perhaps much like the electric guitar has been in our own time. The ‘voodoo’ in the title comes from Jimi Hendrix’s song ‘Voodoo Chile’, which features Hendrix’s canny use of the wah-wah pedal with his staggeringly powerful guitar sound. The ‘sonnets’, refer to the short poetic form that was exemplified by Shakespeare. The strong contrasts in shading and weight in Voodoo Sonnets reflects Shakespeare's ability to capture human frailties so wonderfully – the murderous and self-absorbed Richard III, the pathos and journey to redemption found in King Lear, Macbeth’s loss of morality – to name just a few from a seemingly inexhaustible list. The interludes act as musical sketches that attempt to convey some of these frailties in a very pared-back fashion, from tiny specks of sound to monumental power chords – something that Hendrix was also very good at.

To borrow or purchase the score and parts from the Australian Music Centre click here

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