The title Adjacent/Harmonious refers to the colour wheel. Unlike in music, where adjacent pitches are considered dissonant and disruptive, adjacent colours are termed ‘harmonious’ and blend well together.

The starting point for Adjacent/Harmonious was the cut-out artworks by Henri Matisse which were on display at the Tate Modern during the early stages of the work’s composition. I worked with cut-outs of my own and colours inspired by Matisse (blue, green and yellow) and with pitch material generated through the use of a musical cipher on the orchestra’s name to create the materials for the work.

The piece moves back and forth between the harmonic stasis of extended explorations of single pitches, and more melodic sections derived from the cipher material, principally focused on a three-note motif. These three notes have a similar physical relationship on a piano keyboard as the blue, green and yellow I started with have on the colour wheel, and the piece explores the musical relationships of these close-lying pitches as melody, harmony and as a structural force.

Adjacent/Harmonious was commissioned by The Angel Orchestra in 2014 and revised in 2022 to accommodate the orchestra’s changed instrumentation.

The piece is designed to be performed by amateurs and is scored for the following instruments:

2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo)
cor anglais
2 clarinets in B-flat
2 bassoons
3 horns in F
2 trumpets in B-flat
2 timpani (B, C-sharp)

View a preview of the 2014 conductor’s score (click on the score to view full-screen)