Englyn Forms

Englyn Forms (1994) is a work for viola and cello in two movements. Formally, the music is based on the Englyn, a Welsh poetic form. The original poetic form has very specific patterns (number of syllables per line, rules about rhyming and assonance) and those are reflected in the music. The most obvious is the pattern 10 - 6 - 7 - 7, which gov­erns some of the music’s melodic / harmonic and durational aspects. The work is cast as a set of continuous variations, but rather than being variations on a melody or a progres­sion of harmonies, it is a set of variations on the pattern itself.

The first set (movement) is mostly sustained sounds and broad lines. The second set begins with music that is lighter in character, then becomes more dense before subsiding into a sustained, slower section. The real character of the work, however, lies in the nar­rative motion of both movements (also relating to the Englyn form, which was primarily a vehicle for virtuoso storytellers), and the unique, rich character of the viola / cello sound-world.