Revolution reflects upon the irrevocable changes brought about by climate change – from the effects on the atmosphere itself to the overall effects on our planet and our lives. The title was chosen because throughout research into the topic, it became clear that we need to revolutionise the ways in which we live our lives in order to ensure we slow the warming of the planet.
The piece begins by looking at climate change from an atmospheric point of view, focusing on four key gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and CFCs). These have been converted into musical molecules, with their notated forms bearing direct relation to the molecules themselves – for example, using the number of electrons in an atom’s outer electron shell to determine intervals between notes. In the first and second sections of the piece, the concentration of these molecules in the atmosphere is tracked from their pre-1750 tropospheric concentrations to their present day concentrations. The levels are directly reflected in the music, with the random nature of molecules’ movements reflected by the use of independent repetition by the performers. Towards the end of the section a rising motif symbolises the slow rise in the Earth’s temperature.
Moving into the second section, the focus changes to look at the manmade influences on climate change. The musical molecules are extended and developed to reflect the industries that create them, leading to a mechanical, systematic climate change machine which grows in power as the temperature increase until a crisis point is reached.
In the final section, the piece changes gear. Instead of the negatives of climate change, it looks at the positive changes humankind are making to try to slow its progression. Pulsating notes reflect the sun’s rays and the turning of wind turbines, while greener technologies are contemplated as the piece draws to a close. While the efforts that are being made to quash climate change won’t be able to stop the Earth from continuing to warm up, the final bars acknowledge that our efforts will help slow down the rising temperatures and atmospheric changes.
Revolution was commissioned by the Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra in 2014 as part of their Young Composers Award. It was written between July and September 2014. It is in the region of ten minutes in length (very approximate due to the nature of the first section of the piece).