reflection of light is either specular or diffuse (2016)
c. 2 minutes
Roberta Michel (flute) at the 2018 SEM Ensemble's Emerging Composers Workshop
When light reflects off the surface of an object, two types of reflection can be achieved: specular, where the image is retained in a mirror-like manner; and diffuse, where the image is either lost or distorted. The nature of the reflection is determined by the nature of the reflective interface. This piece for solo flute is saturated in structural palindromes, reflections, and symmetries in both partial and complete forms; exact and distorted. Thus, the musical material develops through the piece via symmetry and palindromes in both specular and diffuse forms in order to emulate the reflection of ‘light’ (the resultant musical material) from various ‘reflective interfaces’ (the original musical material). The brief duration of the piece is also significant; emitted by the performer and instrument, it is fleetingly transmitted through, reflected around, and ultimately absorbed by the performance space.
This piece also forms the basis for my published paper “Initial approaches to idiomatic contemporary writing for a musical instrument: discovering methods of practice-based research” (2018) which outlines a research model for approaching writing for an instrument for the first time in a contemporary style (this piece was my first attempt at writing for the flute). I was fortunate enough to work with virtuoso flautist Roberta Michel (of the SEM Ensemble) on this piece, who kindly provided further insight into writing for the instrument; this experience helped to develop my paper’s findings beyond my initial conclusions, greatly influencing my approach to writing for other instruments for the first time (a practice that I imagine will be ongoing for the rest of my career!).