Desmond Clarke - Elastic Time

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Elastic Time is a piece for string quartet exploring rhythmic patterns which are both free, in that each part is independent of the others, and precise, in that they are clearly defined in time. These rhythms would be impossible to realise using conventional notation, and so the piece uses a scrolling video score to show rhythmic information.

The piece is a strict canon, with each part an inversion and/or retrograde of another. Within this, the tempo of each player’s part is independent and continually changing. This causes the rhythmic relationships to continually shift against each other, and results in an intricate but free-sounding interlocking of the different voices within a carefully controlled overall structure.

This balance of freedom and precision is made possible by the video-score used to present the piece. My hope is that this work is the beginning of a much wider exploration of the possibilities of this medium, perhaps by taking it as a starting point for a suite or album of pieces.

Composer: Desmond Clarke

Composer photo
Photo of Desmond Clarke

Desmond Clarke (b. 1989) is a composer, visual artist and oboist based in the North of England. His work has been performed and exhibited extensively around the UK as well as throughout Europe and in North America.

Throughout his multi-disciplinary practice, Desmond’s work unpicks the relationships between underlying processes and their resultant forms at micro and macroscopic scales.

Ongoing musical projects as of 2021 include a series of works using fixed and live-generated video scores to explore the boundaries and overlaps between notated and improvised music, and a number of audiovisual installations. His recent visual work, largely borne out of the 2020 lockdown, focuses on exploring the limits of legacy printing hardware with modern algorithmic processes to create structures and forms that articulate the friction between order and randomness found in the natural world.

He has been lucky enough to work with numerous professional and amateur ensembles including the Arditti Quartet, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Cikada and the Philharmonia Orchestra.