Kaplan (2002 – 2003)

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George Kaplan is the central character in Hitchcock’s movie North By Northwest.    And yet he doesn’t exist.

The film’s hero (played by Cary Grant) is initially mistaken for George Kaplan.   His subsequent search for George Kaplan, and that of his pursuers, provides a large part of the movie’s plot.   As an audience we only realise half way through the film that George Kaplan does not exist.   Cary Grant realises it far later on.

I like the idea of mistaken identity.  I also like the idea of searching for a hugely important thing which turns out to be at best something entirely different and at worst totally irrelevant.   It intrigues me and certainly features in my own life.

When I compose I’m aware that much of the process can follow a similar path and so I’ve started to incorporate this ‘searching’ in to the finished music itself.  It follows lines of musical exploration in one direction only to find that they’re not as important as I thought they once were and are usurped by other possibilities.

However, the idea that George Kaplan may be more than just a fabrication of the US intelligence services began to fester in my mind.  I mused on the idea that he (or she now) exists outside that original film. Kaplan exists, not just as a person to search for and never find, but also as a conductor of events, a watcher and decision maker who can knowingly combine both roles of pursuer and pursued.

In this work perhaps Kaplan is one of the performers? Or maybe the film maker?  The photographer?  Or maybe simply a metaphor for the audience?

The Music

Kaplan was composed in 2002 and 2003.  It lasts almost 63 minutes and comprises seven tracks.    Each track is essentially self-sufficient although they were composed to fit together as one large piece.

The music is structurally non-programmatic.

I wanted to imbue the score with harmonic and rhythmic ambiguities which perhaps lead towards certain conclusions and then reveal other results which may be more important.   This occurs over various architectonic levels and refers not just to micro-musical material (i.e. the ubiquitous minor triad with major 7th or multi-phasing of rhythmic sets) but also to the style of the music and its context within other current musics.’

The Performance

A 63 minute aural and visual performance involving two live musicians and video.   The two performers and their keyboards are placed in front of a large screen on to which the video is projected.

The music is structurally non-programmatic.   It was fully composed without reference to any visual material and therefore leads the visual structure.   Unlike many audio-visual performancess in which the music is subservient to the other media involved, this performance is driven by the music and its inherent structure and tension.

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