The concept of a ‘musical synapse’ is represented in this piece by the apparent gap between sounds that emanate from the real instruments of the orchestra and the electronic sound-world that is triggered, articulated and shaped by the orchestral instruments. In some respects the triggering of these sounds parallels the ‘stop’/‘go’ messages of the synaptic nerves. The electronic timbres comprise materials which were pre-composed in the studio and sounds of the orchestra which are transformed in real-time during the performance.
“Synapse” is in one continuous movement with musical ideas derived from a single scale which traverses the entire range of the orchestra from contrabassoon to piccolo. This ‘super-scale’ provides a degree of harmonic focus for the work and characterises the many complex textures that are explored by the orchestral forces.
The work was commissioned by RTE for the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. Much of the initial work on the piece was undertaken during a residency at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan.