Ewan Mackay

Scenes of aden

composer's note

Scenes of Aden – for String Quartet, is inspired by Aden Country Park, which is situated 16 miles North of Cruden Bay. With this piece, I wanted to portray a scene of the park which changes as the piece goes on. 

The work is composed in 6 movements, and I had initially, I envisaged these movements to be played continuously – attacca, but I later decided that as each movement was depicting another scene, it made more sense to allow a short break before the next movement begins, with the exception of the transition between movement 5 and 6 as this is a critical moment in the piece where the tension throughout the piece begins to change before the final resolution in the closing bars. 

The main motif in the piece is a descending figure – F, C#, #G, #C. This motif is heard numerous times throughout over the duration of the piece. Similarly, I have made use of Eb and Bb throughout the piece to create tension in various ways, with tightly packed harmonies and harsh dissonance before returning once again to a Major feel. 

Central to the works sound is a constant relationship between tension and release or major and minor. The piece is characterised by the shifting back and forth of the two main melodic ideas. 

The final movement of the piece is important – and was actually the second movement I composed, so in effect, I have the work from the inside out. Having established the first and last movements, I found composing the inner movements rather simple, however, movement 5 proved difficult to find the transitional material into the final movement. In composing the piece in this manner, I found that the material came much faster than with previous work. I was inspired to craft the piece in a way where the ending of the piece as hiding in plain sight, where it would seem obvious to the listener, but is not necessarily expected. I feel like there is a great deal of emotion within this piece and the density throughout is finally released once the piece comes to an end.

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