Quintet l'homme armé (2003)

for 'cello, viola, piano, violin, clarinet
By Douglas Boyce

Quintet ‘l’homme arme’ takes as its touchstone the eponymous 15th cent. melody. The melody is subjected to a series of transformations so drastic as to render it completely unrecognizable in its new fragmented and atonal context. This transformed melody, however, serves as the source material for the piece in much the same way that the ‘l’homme arme’ tune did for so many composers of masses from the mid-15 th to the end of the 17 th centuries. Indeed, several contrapuntal and isorhythmic techniques occur within the piece, though they are partially or completely effaced by a different set of contrapuntal and textural strategies derived from Lutoslawski and Ligeti. The source tune and the tradition surrounding it serve as organizing principles, but not, in any significant way, as a stylistic framework. Rather, consideration of earlier compositional practice informs current practice, not through a one-to-one mapping, but rather, far more varied and mercurial processes.

Other works by Douglas Boyce:
“A gentleman brought music to his lady's window, who hated him,...and when he persisted, she threw stones at him. Whereupon a friend of his that was within his company, said to him; "What greater honour can you have to your music, than that stones come about you, as they did to Orpheus."”
--Francis Bacon