Street Life 2

Browse Works


Alto sax
Bass guitar
Electric guitar

Additional Information

score and sound file available on website
(recording is from version one)…

Music Theatre elements Dedicated to homeless People
'Street Life 2' is the second version of a composition I wrote for an ensemble of seven instruments. The initiative came from observations on Birmingham New Street on my way to the Conservatoire. For the title page to Street Life I have used photos of sculptures from my mother created during her years in the Czech Republic before the outbreak of World War II. It shows a homeless mother with children, children begging, father and son, and a gypsy with monkeys.
The musical inspiration came from three sources:
1) Haydn's Farewell Symphony (1772) gave me the inspiration to write something that would have a theatrical visual effect. I took this idea and reversed it, allowing the performers to walk on independently as well as leaving independently.
2) Gavin Bryars' Jesus Blood (1971) and the way he uses the song of a tramp in his work inspired me to write something about homeless people. I used a pre-recorded tape with street noises and wrote my piece around this scenario.
3) In order to link these ideas I used aleatoric writing influenced by Lutoslavski's work such as Mi Parti (1976).
I have used the traditional three-part structure for this composition but developed it differently and freely, coupling this with a detailed investigation of the elements and possibilities of aleatoric writing, a visual chance element and my idea of a visual representation of the effects of homelessness in a musical way.
By setting the scene with an empty stage and using a pre-recorded tape with street noises I have started my composition with a representation of isolation and loneliness. In order to develop this further I have used aleatoric methods for the first and last sections. The audience is taken by surprise by the empty stage. With this visual effect I endeavoured to bring across a certain emphasis on the feelings of homeless people living on the streets and their needs without having to use any words.
This lonely atmosphere is created by using the pre-recorded tape with the street noises, the railway station, footsteps, the tower bells, the voices of the Big Issue seller and the homeless flute player as the instrumentalists walk on to the stage, placing themselves at different positions independently, one after the other. They either stand throughout the piece, or, after the conductor's entrance, are seated. The conductor, who is the last one up and the first one to go, plays the part of a person who knows everything better and wants to improve the situation without really doing much other than a lot of talking. This visual gesture of resignation signifies that he has failed to help and leaves the homeless to fend again for themselves alone. Only the middle section presents unity and togetherness and this is played in the traditional way. The first part of this section gives the impression of a hymn or chorale. The piece ends as it started. Each player departs independently, walking off through the audience, leaving an empty stage with the pre-recorded tape of street noises. (recording is from version 1.)