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Jonty Harrison

Programme notes
To my wife Ali

Aria was conceived as an elaboration of the gestural properties of a gust of air, characterized by a tendency from generally higher to generally lower register (and at least part of the way back), coupled with a similarly-paced crescendo/diminuendo shape, and containing a great deal of internal spatial detail. This gesture also predominates at the ‘local’ level, among the individual sound types and individual musical gestures in the work. Occasionally the forward momentum is halted by entering a ‘garden’ of relative stasis; these become increasingly evocative of real garden environments as the work progresses.

As a counterpoint to this are elements recalling the more vocal and cultural connotations of the word aria. To emphasise this aspect of the human voice within the work, many of the sounds in Aria were produced using the EMS Vocoder in the Studio Charybde of the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB, France).

Aria was realized in the studios of the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB, France) during two visits in 1987, and in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the University of Birmingham (UK) — which also provided support in travelling to Bourges — and some small revisions were made in December 1988. Aria was commissioned by the GMEB. I am indebted to Adrian Hunter for his invaluable help as Studio Assistant during the final stages of assembling the piece in early April 1988. Aria is dedicated to my wife Ali for her help, support and forbearance.


  • May 17, 1988, Upbeat to the Tate: Concert 1, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool (England, UK)
  • Composer(s): Jonty Harrison
  • Year of composition: 1988
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Commission: GMEB
  • ISWC: T9247684179
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Duration: 10:54
  • ISRC: CAD509611660