C.76 - (Unfinished) "Discovery"

Composed: August 2014 to April 2015

     As I completed my college exams in 2014 and awaited the results, I was becoming increasingly anxious that I would not achieve the grades needed to get into the University of Surrey (which at the time required the grades "AAB"). Out of this stress, I decided I would compose a portfolio of compositions to send off to Surrey should I not meet the grade boundaries required for entry. The first (and last) of these compositions is this unfinished work, “Discovery”.

     It was going to be an impressionist composition inspired by Debussy and his "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune" , if the opening wind phrase didn’t already make that much obvious. I can’t recall what direction I was planning to take this piece, except that I was pursuing an oriental aesthetic through a vast amount of pentatonicism – likely the first time I would engage with it to some degree. Thus, Debussy’s influence is blindingly apparent: pentatonicism, the (partial) blurring of the tonic and metre, as well as coloristic instrumental choices such as the antique cymbals.

     Motif was going to be strongly employed, notably through the opening flute melody, which itself already recurs twice within the first 10 bars. At the very end of the score, there are fragments of material that I had sketched for later use. It is in these fragments where the pentatonicism is most prevalent.

     Ultimately, when I received my college results and realized I had achieved the required grades to get into Surrey, I immediately lost interest in writing this portfolio and the piece died. The reason it is listed here after numerous other compositions that I wrote during my time at Surrey is because I did return to look over this piece a few more times in the following months, halting entirely around April 2015.

Reminiscence written on 13th January 2018

Last updated: 20th October 2018

© 2019 Jonathan Shaw