Tangle and Tear (2018) was originally written as a trio for violin, bass clarinet and piano, commissioned by Plexus (Melbourne, Australia), and later adapted for horn trio. Inspired by the amazing musicians in this ensemble and everything they do for Australian music, I wanted to use the concept behind the name Plexus as the base for the piece. One of the meanings of this word is “an intertwining combination of parts or elements in a structure or system [from Latin plectere–to braid]”. As I was looking into this definition, the word tangle kept coming to mind. Then, as I enjoy juxtaposing musical ideas and characters behind them, I thought of the opposite of “tangle”–“tear”. The concept of tangle and tear grasped me immediately, and my brain kept coming up with various ways in which this concept applies to our everyday lives. For me, it represents any situation that gets out of hand and cannot be untangled or resolved in a destruction-free way. It can be something light-hearted, like having to cut blue tack out of your pre-schooler’s hair (don’t ask me how I know this…); something devastating from within, like life-threatening addictions; finally, something dramatic and terrifying, like the only possible way out of an unhealthy and violent relationship. This last one kept churning in my head, influencing several sections of the piece, perhaps due to Australia’s out-of-control situation with domestic violence… The concept is also intentionally reflected in the form of the piece: unpredictable, with some sections taking a long time to tangle and some built around the struggle of tearing something irreparable apart. Musically, the entire piece is built on the opening’s emotional four-bar motif from the piano part.
This horn trio version is dedicated to my friend and collaborator Peter Luff.