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Clockwork Mechanisms (For Violin & Harpsichord)

For Violin & Harpsichord Duo.   

Vln & Hpsd. 


Duration: 7'

Programme Note: 

Clockwork Mechanisms is a piece that capitalises on the silvery, almost metallic quality of the violin and harpsichord, in order to create monument and pulsation. This aspect of motion is explored through the rhythmical propulsion of a baroque gigue, which is gradually broken down. The title refers to the two aspects that inspired this composition: ‘clockwork’ refers to the exploration of pulsation and the cyclical aspects to the material, whilst the mechanistic aspect is a reference to the plucking mechanism of the harpsichord. It also refers to my second piano trio, Clockwork Dances, where Clockwork Mechanisms acts as a continuation of my fascination in momentum and pulsation.

Outside of the conceptual influences of pulsation and momentum, I wanted to allude to the prominent baroque harpsichordists of the time, where composers such as Rameau, Couperin and Royer provided the foundations to my writing for harpsichord. As such, I incorporate baroque ornamentation into the violin and harpsichord parts, with mordants and trills acting as an extension of the melodic lines. It is through doing this, I was able to extend the sound of the harpsichord through rhythmic activity, whilst providing momentary references to the historical background that the harpsichord eludes too.


This piece was first workshopped and premiered by Fenella Humphries (violin) and Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) at the Cheltenham Music Festival 2022, as part of their annual Composers’ Academy.

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