Rough Cut was composed in the spring of 2015 following a call for scores by the Contemporary Music Research Centre and was first performed by Peter Sheppard-Skaerved at a solo recital in the National Centre for Early Music in June that year. It received its London premiere in February 2016 at Wilton's Music Hall.
The title is borrowed from an aspect of film making: a ‘rough cut’ is the second stage of editing, after the initial assembly of scenes but before the ‘final cut’ is produced. At this stage the narrative may be clear but movement between scenes will not be smooth and the film will appear unfinished, possibly even a little crude; in making the rough cut the editor will move blocks around into different arrangements to find the best sequence and will experiment with timings and durations of scenes to find suitable proportions, to control the pace, create or release tension and maybe start to build up sections of montage where scenes are alternated to suggest simultaneous streams of activity. This process closely mirrors my approach to building musical structures during composition.
The repeated opening motif is a fragment borrowed from the beginning of my quintet Strike – which also borrows techniques from cinematic processes – but from that starting point Rough Cut develops its own material, usually short, sharply contrasted fragments, grouped in six sections.