Matthew Brown Composer


Sea of tranquility

When developing the musical ideas for this work, I was often reminded of the central part of Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi, in which Pi and Richard Parker both struggle against the natural weather conditions and Pi experiences hallucinations. Though at times desperate and terrified, Pi gradually gains strength. Sometimes he can see very clearly. Pi sees the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon’s Tranquillitatis basin. Other times he cannot see at all.

In the premiere performance, the quartet performed against a soft drone of E flat and B flat, played by Aidan on the accordion. Aidan and I discovered the potential of this idea whilst improvising together in a night-time workshop in the Iris and Isaac Hair Salon on the Old High Street in Folkestone. The quartet plays both within and against the implied tonality. I thought about the conflict of hope and despair and tried to suggest this in the harmony. The textures are often allowed to blend, reflecting Pi’s illusions.