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David Farquhar: Telephonic ...Embedded video
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David Farquhar: Telephonics...Embedded audio
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This set of nine piano pieces was based on the phone numbers of my colleagues in the Music Department of Victoria University in 1977, and was first performed by Margaret Nielsen that year. The idea of associating numbers with pitches is fairly standard in Western music for labeling chords, but not so much used melodically. Perhaps my first encounters with numerical gamelan notation in the 70's may have sparked off the idea of using telephone numbers as a basis for melodic and harmonic material. The relationship I used was very simple: start with 1 on C and climb up the diatonic scale to reach E a tenth above as 0, equivalent to 10; then add sharps or flats as desired, provide a rhythm, and you're away with the beginning of a piece.
My 1977 programme note pointed out that the pieces are "musical offerings" for the people concerned, and were not intended as portraits. The titles in fact, are deliberately non-committal; the nine pieces are arranged palindromically around a central toccata and incorporated two Echoes, two mirrors, two Rounds and two more toccatas as beginning and end. The toccatas are warm-up, try-out or show-off pieces; the Echoes make use of sympathetic resonances; the mirrors involve tunes and their upside-down versions, and the Rounds are like Rondos with repetition or variation of material.
To the composer's colleagues in the Music Department of Victoria University, Wellington: Douglas Lilburn, Ross Harris, Elizabeth Kerr, Valerie Harris, Gavin Saunders, Judith Clarke, Gordon Burt, Allan Thomas and Margaret Nielsen
02 Jan 1981: Performed by Margaret Nielsen (piano) in 1981.
27 Sep 2007: Performed by Margaret Nielsen at the Dominion Post – 100th Birthday Concert at St Andrew’s on The Terrace in Wellington
13 Nov 2015: Performed by Jian Liu (piano) at the Remembering Lilburn concert, Adam Concert Room, Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music, Wellington