In 2008 I was asked to write a work for 36 trumpets as a companion piece for Harrison Birtwistle’s Static Mobile. A trip to Marrakesh resulted in the piece Djemma el Fna. Before the trip, however, I had made a first attempt at writing a work for 36 trumpets. After completing three minutes, however, it became clear that, given the rehearsal time available, it would be too difficult to perform. The piece seem worth salvaging, so after completing Djemma I decided to turn it into a piece for mixed treble ensemble and solo electric guitar. Whilst not originally intended as a programmatic piece, its mysterious opening and the contrasting energy of the middle section seemed also to suggest something of the region around Morocco, hence the non-specific name Maghreb. Really the work is a study in note clusters and, as such, a continuation of ideas explored in my orchestral piece Movements. The clusters begin with little sense of pulse, though the electric guitar provides a framing melody that is important throughout the piece. Gradually the clusters gather a sense of momentum and freedom, eventually moving around the texture at will. The energy they create soon becomes overwhelming, however, and eventually the piece collapses back on itself, leading to an altered recapitulation and a quiet close.


36 treble wind instruments (8fl, 4 ob, 8cl, 4asax, 8tpt, 4hn) and electric guitar