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string orchestra music score

Breaking Up The Deep     9'00"
A grieving song

General Information

Scored for a string orchestra of eleven players, six violins, two violas, two cellos, one double bass, Breaking Up The Deep expresses the angry pain of grief.

Chords of warm sensual harmonies but insistent throbbing rhythms express the feeling of hurt combined with the refusal to accept it – the agonising, though often quiet, slow cry of ‘NO’.

This music keeps returning played by the whole string orchestra.

Five times the music falls into the background to give way to faster passionate outpourings of more free-flowing grief. Each outburst is for a different group of instruments:
• two cellos and double bass
• two violas
• six violins
• the whole string orchestra in a passionate tutti
• double bass alone

The last outpouring is for the double bass in its highest register, passionate, fast and totally alone. There is something moving and vulnerable about the double bass singing alone in this way - a big instrument but with such a quiet voice and the only unaccompanied moments in the whole piece.

Breaking Up The Deep is not a conventional elegy; it is full of sorrow and pain, however its sorrow is not a serene accepting grief but much more raw, visceral and unresolved.

Breaking Up The Deep was written immediately after the death of my dear friend C. L. and his partner P.M. who hanged himself days after C. L.’s funeral.

Exact Forces

six violins, two violas, two cellos, one double bass

Instrumental Layout

I imagine the string orchestra in a single line semicircle, the instruments in score order with violin 1 on the audience's left. This staging helps convey the closeness of a group bonding in common grief. The music exploits this layout; players who are next to each other share free-flowing outpourings of grief.

Score Extract and Listen

Click to read and listen to extracts

Extract 1

Extract 2

A page at a glance:

string orchestra music score


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