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Blue Work

Darkness and Light

for orchestra

Year:  1995   ·  Duration:  5m
Instrumentation:  3333; 3131; perc (4 players), harp; strings ( Percussion 1: 3 sus. cym., glock., maracas, rain stick, tub. bell Percussion 2: 3 tam tams (sm, med, lge), 3 triangles, 3 large wood drums (free-standing), 5 wood blocks, glass chimes, bamboo chimes, nipple gong Percussion 3: timp (28"), metal chimes, 4 cowbells, snare drum, rain stick Percussion 4: bass drum, 5 toms, 2 timbales, 4 temple blocks, referee's whistle, rain stick;

Year:  1995
Duration:  5m
Instrumentation  3333; 3131; perc (4 players...

Dorothy Ker

Composer:   Dorothy Ker


To borrow or hire parts please email SOUNZ directly at Please note that only library members in New Zealand and Australia can borrow or hire parts.


This work employs the device of a passacaglia, ie a recurring harmonic sequence, in this case linked to a talea - a rhythmic ostinato - of expanding and contracting durations and dynamics. The phasing of chord sequence and talea, their being different in length, results in an 'elliptical' profile of the sequence that draws focus to a different part of it each time it comes around. As it passes it draws in fragments of its transformed self, as well as other cyclic events, giving a continually renewed range of contrasting colours from the the orchestra, the predominant opposition being, as the title suggests between 'dark' and 'light' timbres: the process of the work in broad terms is a transformation from the one state to the other. The work was inspired by the New Zealand painter Colin McCahon's 'Northland Panels'.

Performance history

28 Nov 1998: Performed in a rehearsed reading by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marc Taddei as part of the NZSO-SOUNZ Readings