Andriessen - Workers Union

Andriessen - Workers Union

Year of composition: 1975

Duration: 20 minutes

Instrumentation: For any loud-sounding group of instruments.

This tremendously energetic marathon work is for any 'loud sounding' group of instruments. Rhythm is the tyrant in this work and must be adhered to at all times. All rhythms are in unison, aside from a few binary splits and a brief passage with specific pitch notation at the conclusion. At all other times pitch choices are at the performers' discretion and when executed aright should yield fascinating harmonies. Standard scales should be avoided at all times and this creates a dense and terrifying polyphony, or perhaps a meta-monophony as the lines grind along, somehow glued together and yet uncompromisingly dissonant. Workers Union manages to be minimalist and atonal without falling becoming dull or incoherent. Giving performers an unusual measure of choice whilst at the same time maintaining a strong structure and didactic writing gives the piece a verve and urgency in performance. The work is ideally suited to saxophone ensembles with their homogenous timbre and grunting dexterity.

Composer's Notes:

Workers Union was originally written for the orchestra De Volharding (Perseverance), in which I myself figured as a pianist at that time.

This piece is a combination of individual freedom and severe discipline: its rhythm is exactly fixed; the pitch, on the other hand, is indicated only approximately, on a single-lined stave.

It is difficult to play in an ensemble and to remain in step, sort of thing like organising and carrying on political action.

Louis Andriessen