From Honey to Ashes (2007) is a companion piece to The Raw and the Cooked for two guitars (2004). Guitarist Richard Hand and flautist Jennifer Stinton had been performing arrangements of some of the movements from The Raw and the Cooked and they asked me if I’d like to write some new music to make a longer suite for flute and guitar.
The resultant piece is a set of eleven highly contrasting miniatures. The movements range from original compositions (Milonga, Interlude in a discrete mode) to more or less straight arrangements (Flutes and Fiddles). Many of the other pieces make reference to composers, musicians and contrasting styles of music. Brazil is loosely based on Terry Gilliam’s film of the same name and draws on fragments of popular songs from the 1930’s. Hot was written as a tribute Django Reinhardt, The Raw is loosely based on the jazz guitar style of Allan Holdsworth and Malabar Hill is built from snippets of a jazz-rock track by John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra. The Hotel Kempinski uses part of a David Byrne groove, Tango Brawl is a homage to Piazzolla, Alba draws on the style of Satie’s Gnossiennes, and The Ajman is infused with Arabic influences.
Tango Brawl (a Piazzolla homage) was originally written for Spin (2002/03), a work for ensemble, dancers, video and electronics (funded by the Arts Council of England), which I wrote in collaboration with composer Tom Armstrong.
In concert, From Honey to Ashes can be played complete or any number of the movements can be played in any order. The only exceptions being that if The Hotel Kempinski is played it must be followed by Tango Brawl or The Ajman, and if Tango Brawl is played it must be followed by The Ajman. The title of the piece is borrowed from Claude Levi-Strauss’s book on structural anthropology du miel aux cendres.
The flute part was edited by Jennifer Stinton and is intended for a flute with a low B extension. In the unbarred section of The Raw, accidentals only apply to the notes that immediately follow them.
I would like to thank the late Richard Hand for his considerable and tireless input into this piece. Not only did he edit the guitar part, but Richard also suggested many of the original musical sources for the piece and all the best titles for the individual movements.
© Stephen Goss