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Darkness After Time’s Colours

Denis Smalley

Programme notes

The sound material of Darkness After Time’s Colours grew out of the live electroacoustic work Pneuma whose five vocalists elaborate a language of air sounds, unvoiced consonants and vocal harmonics, and play talking drums from India and Ghana, tuning forks, Chinese gongs and tam-tam. Many of these sounds formed a starting point for this piece — gong strokes, vocal air sounds, air blown on the skins of drums, rotations around drum skins, unvoiced consonants, and tuning fork pulsations — but have often been altered in shape and substance by electroacoustic transformation. New sounds extend, imitate, and penetrate the source sounds elaborating an ambiguous sound symbolism. The piece can be looked on as a vocal journey which passes through various ‘ordeals’ and encounters, hence the title’s allusion to the journey down into Classical underworld.


Darkness After Time’s Colours was realized in the Electroacoustic Music Studio of the University of East Anglia (England) in 1975-76. It premiered in 1976. It was awarded the 2nd prize of the 5th Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France, 1977), and an Euphonie d’or Prize of the 20th Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France, 1992).


  • 1976, Concert, Music Centre — University of East Anglia, Norwich (England, UK)


About this recording

This version was mastered in 2004 by the composer.

  • Composer(s): Denis Smalley
  • Year of composition: 1976
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0104795745
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Duration: 14:00
  • ISRC: CAD500418240