We caught up with Sam Hayden ahead of the premiere of his new composition, Transience, which will be performed alongside Harvey’s String Quartet No. 3 by the Quatuor Diotima as part of the Spitalfields festival on the 14th.
Sam, in your interview with Spitalfields, you described an affinity you felt with Jonathan’s Quartet No. 3. Can you tell me a little more about the nature of this affinity? Does it stem from a similarity in compositional process, or does it rather originate from a shared interest in certain set of sonic possibilities?
My affinity is more in terms of sharing Jonathan’s very open attitude to new sounds rather than a particular technique or compositional approach per se. Having said that, both pieces feature explorations of very delicate and fragile textures, often utilising harmonics and sonorities on the edge of noise and purer tones. Jonathan had a delight in exploring what you might call the ‘interior’ of the sound and this is definitely something we share. In Transience, there is the occasional nod towards spectralist-like ideas of which Jonathan was an enthusiast, which is probably not a coincidence.
I’m curious about your piece’s name- is ‘Transience’ a sonic quality you set out to explore, or is the piece’s quality of transience a property that emerged during the process of its composition?
The title, Transience, refers to the constant harmonic transformations that take place in the piece, where the music never quite settles on an idea before moving onto the next one. Transience is therefore something that comes directly from the compositional process but is of course a more poetic idea as well.
Finally, can you recommend some written resources on Jonathan’s work?
I’d recommend: Jonathan Harvey, by Arnold Whittall. I [also] found some good info about Jonathan’s work here.