Back in May of this year I had the pleasure of working with Tom Ingate and the Apple Tree Orchestra on this piece, ‘Three Seasons’. The Apple Tree Orchestra is an on-going project, but this recording was made specifically for the Cultivation Field 2012 exhibition in Reading, UK. We recorded the piece in the Tremough Orchard, right on the University College Falmouth campus in Penryn, Cornwall. A beautiful location, even if the midges (known as sandflies in NZ) posed a problem!
The score of this piece is interesting because it was, for the most part, composed by falling apples in the Tremough orchard. I say for the most part, because the second interesting point about the score is that it requires work on the part of the performers to interpret and make the score into music. The pitches of the piece are written in the score as semi-breves, with no indication for articulation, dynamic, or expression. Each note is determined by a formula that converts the distance that each apple fell over the season into a pitch; the shorter the distance, the lower the pitch and vice versa. Each day is represented by one bar. We used a metronome in this performance to indicate the bars and as well to sonically express the passing of time.
The first interpretation of the collected data is carried out by Tom, who decides which instruments should play which pitches (largely determined by the range of the instrument – as you can see, in this performance we required a double bass to play the lowest notes of the piece). And secondly, us performers in rehearsal with Tom decide on the dynamics, articulation and expression of each note. This score was special as we had indication for the weather of each day on the orchard above the staves. We used these indications as inspiration for expression (I think ‘very very f***ing wet’ and ‘cyclonic disturbed’ were among some of the most inspiring for us).