The Twittering Machine

Work Details

Percussion solo and orchestra
12 minutes

Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, supported by the Helen Hamlyn Trust


3(III=picc).2+ca.3(III=bcl).3(III=cbsn) - - timps - solo perc: rototoms/cbells/tempblocks/mar/vib - perc(2): toms/guiro/cbell/tam-t/bdr/ratchet/jambl/mar/cast/whip/xyl/glock - pno - harp - strings

Programme Note

The Twittering Machine was written in 2008 for the London Symphony Orchestra. It takes its name from a painting by the Swiss artist Paul Klee. Dating from 1922, the image depicts an imaginary machine, hand-cranked, with mechanical wiry bird-like creatures sitting on top. Set against an atmospheric wash of colour, this fantastical yet simple line-drawing is instantly captivating. Although initially comical, the image has sinister undertones.

My composition attempts to translate this into an aural experience. Incessant twitterings and twitchings, self-perpetuating mechanisms disappearing in and out of textures, fighting against saturated clouds of sound.

Past Performances

26 October 2008
Barbican Hall, London
London Symphony Orchestra
Xian Zhang

25 July 2011
Le Grand Théâtre de Provence, France
Orchestre des Jeunes de la Méditarranée
François-Xavier Roth

19 February 2013
Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
François-Xavier Roth