The Scream

Thomas Simaku (1958)

The Scream 2017

strings (10.8.6.6.4)
Duration 
20
Solist 
Publisher 

he iconic painting by Edvard Munch was the main impulse for writing this piece - hence the title. Its “silent scream” whose echo spans (and can be heard) well beyond the painting's time and frame, struck a chord with me for its resonance with our modern times.

In no way programmatic, the music here focuses on the concentrated form of expression that emanates from the space, the colours, and the gritty intensity of the “deafening silence” in Munch's painting.

Stemming from a single line - hence, the vocal quality imbedded in the overall melodic expression of the strings is at the centre here - there are a variety of “screamingly-based” sonorities, “vocal” or otherwise, throughout the piece. They cover a wide spectrum of dynamics, and range from very soft and delicate to furiously loud and tumultuous textures, as if reaching our modern times from the remoteness of time itself.

These linear manifestations occupy the whole registral gamut of the strings in a symphony
orchestra, and are presented in a variety of formats ranging from static (sometimes tenaciously motionless) horizontal lines, through various heterophonic bundles progressively moving at their own pace, to different ‘diagonal’ sliding lines (microtonally inflected or otherwise) that overlap with, and echo, one another.

Thomas Simaku

Performances 
17.11.17 King's College, Cambridge: BBC Singers / BBC Concert Orchestra / Stephen Cleobury
10
Violin
8
Violin II
6
Viola
6
Cello
4
Double bass
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