The music in detail: Reflexion
With Sanctuary (Overtones and Deviations), I was fascinated by the possibilities of combining the 16-tone piano and other acoustic (or digitally manipulated) acoustic instruments with electronic soundscapes, and the first track on the album in which I did this is Reflexion.
All the electronic elements in Reflexion were created using a digital version of the GENDYN synthesiser (modelled by Léon Spek and available to download here). GENDYN is a "stochastic" synthesiser, invented by pioneering composer Iannis Xenakis in the early 1990s, which uses probability distributions to manipulate digital sounds. The first piece Xenakis produced involved simply letting the program run for 20 minutes and recording what happened—the result of which was a piece he entitled GENDY3. The synthesiser was modified and applied in many different ways after this, by Xenakis himself and others, and the version I used includes eight parameters that can be controlled (frequency ranges, frequency distributions, etc.). I was particularly interested in finding settings where the sound disappeared and reemerged, sometimes steadily, sometimes explosively. From exploring the synthesiser in this way, I came up with a combination of spluttering motors, whistling sounds, and pulses (high and low, fast and slow).
Once I had arranged all these elements in a gently evolving musical structure, I built the piano composition around this soundscape. The piano begins with flourishes, before opening out onto a melancholic falling theme, accompanied by harp-like broken chords. This settles into a more extended middle section that evokes, for me, the feeling of a desert. I chose to base this section on a limited-transposition scale (A, Bb, C#, D, F, Gb, A, Bb, etc.), which I felt gave it a sense of infiniteness. The music then returns to the original theme, this time harmonised. Two new themes emerge in this final section: first, a fanfare, then a lazy, bluesy melodic one based on transposition of the scale from the middle section (G#, A, C, Db, E, F, G#, A, etc.), which brings the piece to a close.