Jacob Howarth - full and empty streets

Workshop performance video

This piece was originally written in 2015 as a university submission and edited in 2018 with a view to making it part of a larger quartet. Its models, which I realised in hindsight, are probably Bartok and Stravinsky, but it has certain other inspirations I think, such as more avant-garde jazz string music like Basquiat Strings. I have always been attracted to musical writing which incorporates 'tones' and 'effects' into its motivic language rather than making a distinction between them, and I think I have done that here: the two musical ideas (organised into a fairly simple ABA structure) are differentiated by speed, but also by tone, techniques and texture - an old idea, but hopefully deployed with sufficient purpose to be interesting. Emotionally the inspiration is less certain - the title came to me after the fact - but it seems to me to have some of the feeling of anomie, of a melancholic loneliness in the middle of a city of furious activity.

Composer: Jacob Howarth

Composer photo
Photo of Jacob Howarth

I am a composer and wine salesman, having studied music and musical composition at school and university since age 11 (as well as at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music), and worked on-and-off in the wine trade since my undergrad days. Musically my first passions were Tchaikovsky and the Spice Girls, cassettes of both breaking with overplaying when I was 7 or 8, since when I have moved through various enthusiasms, each obsessively held and fondly remembered (Mozart, Wagner, Pink Floyd, Ravel, Oscar Peterson, Messiaen, Nino Rota, Fabrizio de Andre). I suppose I am a composer in the 'Western art tradition', for better or worse, though that is more accident than design: while I cannot ignore the conventions and histories of this tradition, I hope to write music that speaks to people of many musical backgrounds.


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Workshop video