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Melody & Elaboration
arranged for Harp and String Orchestra

i.   Melody

ii.  Elaboration 1  (Song of Loss)

iii. Elaboration 2 (Song of Renewal)

Duration. 10 minutes max.    Date 2023

Dedicated to Neil Simpson

Melody & Elaboration was originally commissioned in 1992 by the Canberra based guitar ensemble Guitartrek. Information and recordings for the guitar quartet version can be found here.

Melody & Elaboration is based on a song composed for the dance theatre production The Cheated in 1982 produced by the Sydney based  company, The One Extra Dance Ensemble. The show was premiered at the Cleveland Street Performance Space, Sydney, 1982.  The original song, called Silence, was composed for  counter tenor and modeled on the vocalised sigh of the medieval troubadour (see music and text accompanying 1st movement audio file). The first movement Melody is a transcription of the song for string orchestra.  The song can be performed instead of the string orchestra version for the first movement.


The two Elaborations transform aspects of original song which is performed by the string orchestra in the first movement, Melody. Elaboration 1 (Song of Loss) is a type of monody. Each phrase of the original melody is either played by the harp or orchestra with the other parts having an accompanying or embellishing role.   


Elaboration 2 (Song of Renewal) takes aspects of Melody to form the basis of textural and contrapuntal transformations. Referring to Bach's use of the concerto form, 'Elaboration 2' focuses on various soloists (harp, violins 1 & 2, viola and cello), and types of counterpoint (melodic, timbral and rhythmic). The work reaches complexity with the use of textural simultaneity when the low end instruments can be distinctly heard as a separate texture from the harp based textures.


The subtitles 'Song of Loss' and 'Song of Renewal' are used to show the journey of transformation from 'Elaboration 1' to 'Elaboration 2'.

The 2023 orchestration for harp and string orchestra is slightly different to the earlier 1992 guitar quartet version..


i) Melody

string orchestra only

00:00 / 02:52

ii) Elaboration 1

(Song of Loss)

harp & strings

00:00 / 03:09

iii) Elaboration 2

(Song of Renewal)

harp & strings

00:00 / 04:30

Score and parts are available by contacting the composer.

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