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A quantum in general could be considered to be a small defined amount of anything; for instance, if one were to consider the grains of sand of a beach, the smallest amount of sand would be a single grain. One grain could therefore be considered a quantum of sand. However, the term takes on a slightly more specific role when we start talking about small discrete packets of energy. I had the idea for this piece when I was reading about the nature of light quanta (photons) and in particular the idea that light can be considered to be both a particle and a wave. What appears to us to be a continuous beam can also be seen as a stream of discrete packets of energy. When discussing light quanta, Einstein uses the analogy of a sea wall being eroded by either ocean waves or a shower of bullets. Musically, this image suggested to me the idea of small fragments that evolve and then merge to together, eventually condensing down to a single note. The form of the piece at its most basic level is therefore a progression from discontinuity towards continuity.
06 Jan 2012: Performed by the Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble, conducted by Frank Ollu, at Duke's Hall, Royal Academy of Music, in London.
13 Nov 2020: NZSO Shed Series | Kabarett