Vertex (6 channels, 15':30")
"All Mercury is composed of fumes, that is of Water elevating Earth together with itself into an aerial rarity or thinness, & of Earth forcing Air to return into Watery Earth or Earthy Water; for when the Elements are in it altogether & mixed throughout & mutually blended, subdued & reduced to a certain Viscous Nature, they do not easily recede from one another, but either follow the Volatile flying upwards, or remain below with those that are fixed."
Michael Maier, Atalanta Fugiens (1617)
In geometry vertex refers to a meeting-point of two lines that form an angle. In more general usage it can mean "the highest point, the top or apex". Here the title refers both to the build-up of textural density towards a climactic height, and in a more literal sense, to the presence of extreme altitude as articulated by sonic elements. The latter is explored by means of materials in the higher register that can evoke elevated planes, overhead canopies, or aggregates of scattered particles.
The form of the piece is somewhat dictated by textural processes and states that have a strong sense of spatiality: invisible 'entities' approach the listener or fly overhead, spaces become vacant or fill up. A constant canopy runs through the piece, functioning as a unifying thread that binds together the fragmented sections. There is also an overall sense that the pitch figurations gradually become more consistent, until they form a continuous melodic thread towards the end of the piece. Likewise, the more earthbound gestural activities eventually emerge as insistent cyclical pulses.
Vertex was premiered at City University London on 16 October 2012.
In 2013 Vertex received the ICMC student award.