Paul Burnell

18 Dec 2014
Sometimes the easiest-looking pieces are the hardest to perform
Matrices - for piano

Matrices by UK composer Paul Burnell was composed in 2013.

At first sight this seven-movement collection of short pieces for piano, almost entirely comprised of breve chords, appears very simple.  This may be true in terms of technique, but the musicality needed to perform such music is often very subtle, complex and exposing - there is almost nothing to hide behind.

Although the piece is suitable for performance by piano, other instruments may be used instead or in addition. Other instruments may play in a different octave if this aids playing at the indicated tempi and dynamics. 

The word 'matrix' (plural 'matrices') has several meanings, including "a mass of fine-grained rock in which gems, crystals, or fossils are embedded". The subtitles of the seven movements of this piece refer to geological layers around the South West of England and particularly in the coastal area known as Black Ven, between Lyme Regis and Charmouth in Dorset. This area is noted for its fossils, including those collected and documented by Elizabeth Philpot (1780–1857) and her sisters and Mary Anning (1799-1847). 

Another definition of 'matrix', relevant to the method used to generate the notes used in the movements of this piece, is: a rectangular array of quantities or expressions in rows and columns that is treated as a single entity and manipulated according to particular rules.



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