n4

Performances

The first performance was given by Isobel Dontcaster at Guildhall School music & Drama on the 29th of November 2018.

n4 is a piece for solo viola, radio and 4 lights, based on a very short extract of viola part of the first movement Nuages from
Nocturnes by Debussy. The principle was to transform and metamorphose the extract with different electronically inspired effects, expressed through music and four lights. The four lights of different colours represent four different effects; each one illuminates to signal a different effect being applied to the music.

The radio is the genesis of the piece. I was listening to the radio when they broadcast Debussy’s Nocturnes. The radio I use is
an analogue system which use to make glitchy noises most of the time because of the poor connection. I felt fascinated by this mix
and decided then to translate it into an acoustic instrument. This extract is a pattern, which has to be performed several times: with each repetition the piece evolves and is transformed. However, it is not intended for the audience to be aware of this repetition too overtly. Each execution is different and has certain rules and ideas it must follow.

Debussy’s few words on his piece and the movement Nuages

The title Nocturnes is to be interpreted here in a general and, more particularly, in a decorative sense.Therefore it is not meant to designate the usual form of the Nocturne, but rather all the various impressions and the special effects of light that the word suggests.’ Debussy painted Nocturnes as how he was seeing the night, a magic landscape of thousands of colours. I wanted to paint the vision that we could have nowadays of night but as its extreme opposite : the vision of a student living in London, confined in a room,
listening to the radio.