Spoils III, Stones

Spoils (five-movement, concert-length work for Baroque chamber ensemble, interactive electronics, surround sound and video) Dublin, 2016

Spoils I, Unearths (multi-channel fixed media)
Spoils II, Fleshes
(2 violins, cello, harpsichord and computer)
Spoils III, Stones
(2 violins, cello, harpsichord and computer)
Spoils IV, Remains
(multi-channel fixed media and video)
Spoils V, Grounds
(2 violins, cello, harpsichord and computer)

Spoils was inspired by Robert Graves’ assertion that European cultural archetypes are encoded in a shared mythology, and by JP Mallory’s description of the origins and spread of Indo-European languages. Graves contends that our inherited European languages and customs conceal a common belief system that can be deciphered through the study of poetry, and Mallory’s approach to comparative linguistics affirms a similar understanding.

In Graves’ scheme the poet functions as an archaeologist, excavating language to uncover cultural remains buried within mythologies. For Mallory, attempting to retrace language spread and development through time and space is akin to mapping a river from a view point in the delta. But Graves adds his own spin on each story, representing mythological subjects and reburying the original core beneath further deposits of cultural debris and interpretations. Each attempt at revelation becomes, inadvertently, an act of obscuring; each stroke of the archaeologist’s trowel scars the graveside; and each excavation becomes a reburial.

In Spoils I have attempted to model these parallel actions of interpretation and misinterpretation, of excavation and simultaneous reburial – like the Spoils from a mineshaft burying the surrounding landscape while exposing the earth’s interior. In each of the five movements the instrumental and pre-recorded vocal parts become overlaid by themselves; each moment, in its own becoming, exhumes fragments of its earlier self and, at the same time, reinters itself beneath its own remains.

Aoife Ní Dhornáin (Baroque violin)
Marja Gaynor (Baroque violin)
Ilse de Ziah (Baroque cello)
Michael Quinn (harpsichord)
Olwen Fouéré (recorded voice)
Fergal Dowling (computer)
Mihai Cucu (video recording and projection)