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Swirling Skirmish (oboe & harp) [2002]


John Pitts

Year of composition





Difficult (Grades 7+)


9 minutes


Modern classical music


Large mixed ensemble

Instrumental parts

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MP3 file

A jolly romp for oboe (or other treble instrument) and harp. Performance directions as follows:–- The oboe part should be played in strict tempo throughout. The harp part has no time signatures, no bar-lines and only occasional rhythmic values (which are not specific, but merely approximate guides). It is intended that the harpist should follow the oboe line (in the harp part), and play as accurately as possible using the rhythms implied by each note?s horizontal position in relation to the oboe. Where a note or chord in the harp is directly underneath a note in the oboe part, the harpist should aim to play simultaneously with that oboe note (however, the majority of the harp?s notes are not sounded together with the oboe). The harpist should also try to avoid playing in any specific metre given by the oboe (there is a temptation to fill in the gaps with quaver syncopations), unless the spacing of the notes indicates otherwise (i.e. for much of the piece there should be little sense of metre, and the pulse given by the oboe (crotchet = 108) should for the most part be upset by the harp). It is suggested as preferable that both performers play from the same part, with the harpist turning the pages. However there is a separate oboe part if required (although the unrelenting nature of the piece has meant that the page-turns in the oboe part are a little awkward). In either case, the oboist should take great care entirely to ignore the harp throughout regardless (possible exception at G) ? it is the duty of the harp to keep up with the oboe.

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