Unseen Pictures



Unseen Pictures was inspired by “Sound the Bells” by the composer, John Williams. Sound the Bells! was a fanfare written for a series of concerts in a 1993 tour of Japan with the Boston Pops Orchestra. John Williams felt it was a good opportunity to celebrate the joy of the wedding of Crown Prince Naruhito and Masako Owada, which occurred close to the time of the tour.

I started writing the first movement based on this idea of a celebratory piece, full of joy and optimism. However, I soon discovered the potential for variations to be created of the themes heard in this movement, and so was born this 5 movement piece.

It is called Unseen Pictures because it is so influenced by my affinity for film music; this is like music for pictures as yet unseen. Each movement is given a colour as it’s name; it is not programmatic, but each has its own mood.

  1. White – The introduction to the main theme, full of celebratory flourishes. This is titled white for two reasons – firstly because of the connotations with a wedding, and secondly because it’s themes form the basis of the entire piece – it is like all the colours being mixed together (if you know your light theory, that makes white)
  2. Purple – an elegiac piece which feels like a prayer. The title refers to the fact that writing which is full-bodied is often referred to as purple-prose. In addition, purple is a colour often associated with royalty, and this is a regal theme.
  3. Orange – a piece for spiccato strings and strident brass in 7/8 time. Orange is a vibrant colour, signifying fire and heat. That’s what this music is all about.
  4. Crimson – a piece full of passion and underlying sadness. It is based on a secondary theme from the second movement. Crimson feels like the right colour for this, because it feels like an elegy to a deep love which has been lost. Crimson is the colour of passion.
  5. Green – the finale, in which several variations of the main theme make an entrance. This is titled green partly because the beginning feels like a river, and the whole movement has a lot of organic energy and vitality. One part flows and grows into another, rather like a plant growing and flowering.