Three in One upon a Ground - Labyrinth mix

Adam Warren & Nic Bradford - 5 March 2005

Imagine walking this labyrinth - the paths are all of different lengths and curvatures, and there are several sharp u-turns before the centre is reached. These aspects of the journey through the labyrinth are used to direct the composition of this piece, so that the music you hear reflects the physical experience of walking the labyrinth.

The path can be considered as a series of quarter-turn arcs. The length of each arc is directly proportional to its radius, so for example, the length of the longest arc is exactly seven times that of the shortest arc. In this piece, the shortest arc takes one bar of music to traverse, while the longest arc takes seven bars. Each arc also has a direction, clockwise or anti-clockwise as you travel towards the centre, but this is not used in these two variantions.

The note pattern of each bar in an arc is identical. A pentatonic scale was chosen to ensure that notes tended to harmonise together. In addition, each bar has the same number of notes:

Where one arc is immediately followed by an identical arc, the first arc is a variant of the basic pattern.This was done to help the music progress and develop, especially as the piece is not based on one person walking the labyrinth, but three. One person enters the labyrinth at the start of the piece, followed one-and-a-half bars later by a second person and then another half-bar later by a third person. The structure is thus a person alone followed by a pair of people walking the labyrinth.

Each person is represented by an instrument that plays the notes representing the path. The delay between the start of each person causes interactions between their parts and gives rise to a shifting musical texture - in other words, a canon.The third person plays the note patterns one ocatave higher than the first two, to help differentiate the second and third parts and enrich the harmony..

This labyrinth has three 'rings' or paths around its central goal, and sharp turns between each ring. A sonorous bell-like sound is used to emphasise the transformatory nature of these sharp turns. In addition, when the first person reaches the first turn, the note patterns are raised one octave; and when the second person reaches the second turn, their note patterns are also raised one octave. Thus at the end of the piece all the parts are at the same pitch, and this shift towards unity is an essential part its resolution.

It was felt that the labyrinth ought to be present musically, and a pulse seemed the obvious choice. This leads to the minimal mix, while the addition of another, less predictable rythm leads to the dance mix.

Adam Warren
March 05