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The Hanging Bulb consists of a continuous movement, divided into four sections: slow, fast, slow, fast. Sections 1 and 2 are thematically related, as are sections 3 and 4, so the structure could be described as a double couplet. The work expresses particular emotional and psychological states of mind, encapsulated in the title of the work which is an image of despair. Hanging light bulbs have been associated with despair and obsession in the world of art and in the real world. They became a significant image to the composer at the time of writing this piece, which was not born in happy circumstances.
Tension in the music is created through extensive use of the octatonic scale, bi-modal effects and thickly layered chords (such as occur near the end). The xylophone and bass drum are used as symbols of cruelty, while the piano has an important 'personal' statement in the first section. The last section has an obsessional quality which is expressed through repeated rhythms and motifs.
A music resource for secondary schools is available for this work from SOUNZ.
Commissioned by the Dunedin Sinfonia (now the Southern Sinfonia) while the composer was Mozart Fellow at Otago University
To the composer's son, Tristan
In four connected sections: Lento, intenso - Allegretto - Andante mesto - Allegro vigoroso
12 Mar 1989: Performed by the Dunedin Sinfonia (now the Southern Sinfonia), conducted by Peter Zwartz at the Maurice Joel Theatre, Otago Boys' High School, Dunedin
07 Apr 1993: Performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by John Hopkins as part of SOUNZ Orchestral 1993
08 Dec 2013: Performed by the Wellington Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Brent Stewart, at St Andrew's on the Terrace, Wellington.
Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Young
Performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by William Southgate in 1992