Wild Card

Tansy Davies (1973)

Wild Card 2010

3(II=picc.III=afl).3.3(II&III=bcl).3(III=cbsn with A extension) – 4.3.2.btrbn.1 – timp – perc(4): mar/vib/sizz.cym/hi-hat/cabasa/whip/ocean drum/guiro/large rainstick/wind machine/5 tpl.bl/2 bongos/2 roto-toms (very small, tuned very high/reggae sound)/1
Duration 
24
Genre 
Commissioner 
Publisher 

A fascination for the Tarot has led me to explore its labyrinths, in a musical adventure loosely based on the ‘Fool’s Journey’, a metaphor for the journey through life, as depicted by the images and archetypes found in a Tarot pack. I find the Tarot to be a useful guide to everyday life: it’s extremely flexible, as well as light, profound, linear, multidimensional, game-like and complex. The twenty-two Major Arcana are represented here, though not necessarily in their numbered order. Mostly they appear in succession, but sometimes as many as three cards are played together. Some characters return again and again, underpinning other scenes, or creating dramas. Some things to listen out for: The Fool: a relaxed chorale for strings, that can be heard nonchalantly floating in and out of all kinds of situations throughout the piece. The High Priestess and the Magician: a strident melody for high woodwinds, in dialogue with a macho brass bass line. The Empress and the Emperor: a stream of plucked sounds and low trills, opposed by stubborn interjections from the brass and strings. The Hierophant (one who explains or makes a commentary): a highly rhythmical proclamation from the woodwinds in ecstatic union, strengthened all the more by an energetic drum pattern. The Lovers: two sinuous lines, from which, very high and very low utterances, trickle up and down. The Chariot: a fast flowing, and assertive (but often, discrete) line, that wraps itself around the Strength card. Strength: metallic surges, regal promenades, and laid back fanfares from the brass. The Hermit: a softly spoken woodwind chorale, rising and falling, surging and retreating. The Wheel of Fortune: Excited explosions of chattering patterns and repeated notes. Justice: A mercurial melody, heard mostly in the violins, but which takes many forms. It’s true nature is revealed as it gradually mutates, into an engine of grinding grooves: the power behind a strutting and swaying orchestral machine. The Hanged Man and Death: Suspended, dreamy paragraphs, of plucked and bell-like sounds, going round and round in increasing circles. Death is an agent of transformation, and plays with time, with a ticking of bone-like sonorities. Temperence and the Star: A slow-motion and serene lament in two parts, for vibraphone, harp and strings. The Devil: a bestial dance for low woodwinds, whose rhythmical grunts, form irregular patterns, that circle one another. He makes a few appearances. The Tower (a tower stricken by a lightning bolt): Sighs, and yearning horn cries give way to things falling down at different speeds- floating, tumbling, running, and sliding downwards. The Moon and the Sun: Opaque and metallic sounds flutter across the landscape, as the Moon illuminates new pathways throughout the piece.The Sun too casts its light in white noise and the sound of wind; breathing life into many scenes. Judgement: A passage of oscillations and vibrations for woodwind and horns, that grows into a slow, serious, and domineering anthem. The World: Ecstatic and virtuosic interjections from the brass, that transform the heavy mood of Judgement, and grow into strange dances and joyful outbursts. Wild Card was commissioned by the BBC.

Tansy Davies

Performances 
8.9.10 BBC Proms, London: BBC Symphony Orchestra/Jirí Belohlávek
3
Flute
2nd doubling piccolo, 3rd doubling alto flute
3
Oboe
3
Clarinet
2nd & 3rd doubling bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
3rd doubling contrabassoon with A extension
4
Horn
3
Trumpet
3
Trombone
3rd bass trombone
1
Tuba
1
Timpani
4
Percussion
marimba, vibraphone, sizzle cymbal, hi-hat, cabasa, whip, ocean drum, guiro, large rainstick, wind machine, 5 temple blocks, 2 bongos, 2 roto-toms (very small, tuned very high/reggae sound), 1 conga, 2 side drums (normal,piccolo), pedal bass drum, bass drum, opera gong, tam-tam
1
Harp
1
Piano
(Esc)