After Silence…

Program note:
After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
Aldous Huxley from ‘The Rest is Silence’

After silence… takes it’s inspiration from the meeting traditions of the local indigenous custodians of the Perth region – the Noongah people. When the Noongah clans come together for important ceremonies, they sit and talk for days and days, often simultaneously, many times joyously, sometimes with great sadness as they share news of people who have passed away. This talking has the express purpose of ‘clearing the air’ for the ceremonies to come. Gradually, the talking naturally dissipates and the community members fall to silence – finally on the same page and ready for the serious business of the gathering to commence.
As the dramaturgy of the story suggests, the piece opens with great activity and slowly reconciles itself to a quiet simplicity. It is harmonically and melodically based around an ascending 4 note figuration, a cell which also helps generate the form of the work as well as being the basis for the final chorale. There are no direct quotes of indigenous music in the work – those are not my stories to sing. However, I am attracted to the similarities between the formal aspects of indigenous ceremonies and our own ritualized concert hall etiquette.
So After silence… is an overture from the bush of Western Australia, with the intention of partially evoking the outdoors indoors. It was written as a gift from the people of Perth, Western Australia to the people of Perth, Scotland, in celebration of all that we share.
Iain Grandage. August 2010

Performance note:
The whistling alluded to in the score (primarily between Letters G and H) should be evocative of Australian bush birds to the extent that this is possible. The whistling should always be within the instrumental sound, and never so present as to dominate the texture.
A whistle sample can be heard here.


After Silence…

for String Quartet