Before I fall asleep, the city, again... (flute, viola and harp)

Additional Information

In 2019 – before the global pandemic and lockdowns which were to begin the following year – I sketched out ideas for a new piece for flute, viola and harp based on notions of isolation and dislocation.  A key feature of the piece was asynchronicity; any of the instruments could become independent of the others and play ‘alone’ in a way which didn’t necessarily synchronise with the ensemble.  There are passages in the piece where the ensemble plays together, but also moments where there is no pulse to the music, and where each performer relies on cues from other players to trigger their next move, as if they were acting out some sort of secret, musical ritual.  There are other passages where two contrasting tempi are played simultaneously.

When I sat down to start composing the music in March 2020 it wasn’t long before we were in the grip of a national lockdown, and the isolation became real.  One unforeseen benefit of those strange times was that I was able to walk around the city where I live in almost complete isolation; I saw details I hadn’t noticed before, and saw familiar things from new perspectives.  Devoid of people, the city assumed an abstract, almost imaginary quality, and I was reminded of those cities in the fiction of Calvino and Robbe-Grillet which exist only in the minds of their authors and readers.  (The title of this composition is taken from the first line of one of those novels).

This piece is my imaginary city, and you are invited to explore its geography, architecture, landscape and sounds as you wander around.

‘Before I fall asleep, the city, again…’ was first performed by Trilogy Ensemble in an online broadcast from Helmsley Arts Centre, Yorkshire, on 20th March 2021.

(David Lancaster, York, 2021)


University of York Music Press (UYMP)