Australian composer James Ledger

Habits of Creatures
2004
11 mins
2(I,II=picc).2.2(II=bcl).2-4.3.3.1-timp.perc(2):I=vib/tam-t/2susp.cym/sizzle cym/BD/2flexatones/4tpl.bl; II=glsp/crot/2bongos/tam-t(shared with Perc.1)/2flexatones(shared with Perc.1)-strings

Premiere: 11 August 2004
Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Orchestra Victoria
Simone Young, conductor

The title for this piece evolved from a conversation with my wife. When reminiscing over our dog (who was a real creature of habit, so much so you could set your watch by his four-o’clock bark for a walk), she inadvertently described him as a “habit of creature”. I immediately thought that this phrase, with all its connotations, would make an intriguing starting point for a piece of music.

The piece opens with two repeated notes in the trumpet that are punctuated in the woodwinds against rising scales. Soon afterwards, a melancholic melody in the oboe appears. The row of notes the oboe plays is central to the piece – it occurs in many different moods and guises throughout the entire work.

Habits of Creatures is, for me, a very abstract and introspective piece. A large majority of it is quiet and still, being mostly scored for small forces within the orchestra. However, there are times when these moments are contrasted with climaxes of sheer orchestral thunder.

Habits of Creatures was awarded 1st prize in the 2004 3MBS National Composers Award.




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