This work was originally called SONGS AND DANCES, and was intended to be an episodic sequence of those two utterly basic types of music. Thus the first section is a bi-partite song with a bold opening strain and a sweetly regretful after-song (high cellos), while the following section dances liltingly with rich syncopated chords. From then on, however, the music moved into unexpected areas and became more symphonic, at the same time bringing to the fore a poetic idea of which I had originally been only dimly aware - that of sea imagery. In the next two sections, for instance, both strongly developmental, singing and dancing is subsumed in turbulent and restless seascapes, while the fifth section sustains the mood by repeating and extending the opening song with the utmost intensity. The sixth applies similar treatment to the lilting second section, and finally, after the work's climax, the two types of song material are combined in a calm seascape which uses irregularly phased pattern music. This is something of an affectionate homage to the dedicatees of the piece, members of my contemporary music class at Mill's College, Oakland, California, one of the homes of pattern and phase music, where I was a visiting professor in the autumn of 1983.
SONGS AND SEASCAPES was commissioned by Peter Broadbent with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. The first performance was given by Divertimenti on 6 June 1984 at St John's, Smith Square, London as part of the 1984 Holst Festival. The conductor was Peter Broadbent.
Anthony Payne, August 1988