The Ghost in the Machine

John Woolrich (1954)

The Ghost in the Machine 1990

3333 - 6441 - timp - perc(4) - harp - strings
Duration 
15
Genre 
Commissioner 
Publisher 

In much of my recent music I have been preoccupied with the place where rational organisation and intuition meet. I like order and disorder equally, but I particularly like the moment where one slides into the other and the ghost appears in the machine (or the machine in the ghost). I stole the title (but nothing else) from Arthur Koestler’s book. 'The Ghost in the Machine' is a fifteen minute accelerando for large orchestra. A huge melody, built in a slightly mediaeval way, unwinds throughout its course: heard first (a la Mahler) on six unison horns before passing through the violas to unison woodwind and the trombones before finally returning to the horns. Behind this tenor, a battery of percussion spasmodically ticks like a massive, broken clock.

'The Ghost in the Machine' was commissioned by the BBC.

John Woolrich

Performances 
11.5.90, Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan: BBC Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis
13.5.90 Nagano, Japan: BBC Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis
16.5.90 Utsunomiya, Japan: BBC Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis
17.10.90 Royal Festival Hall, London: BBC Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis
10.5.04 St John's Smith Square, London: Kensington Symphony Orchestra/Russell Keable
3
Flute
2nd doubling piccolo & alto flute, 3rd doubling piccolo
3
Oboe
3rd doubling cor anglais
3
Clarinet
2nd doubling Eb clarinet, 3rd doubling bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
3rd contrabassoon
6
Horn
4
Trumpet
4
Trombone
1
Tuba
1
Timpani
4
Percussion
sleigh bells, claves, 4 spring coils, 4 bongos, 2 tam-tam, bass drum + cymbal, 2 log drum, 2 hi-hat, boobams, 4 temple blocks, bass drum, 2 bass drum with foot pedal, 2 congas
1
Harp
(Esc)