Titus Groan Music

Titus Groan Music (1969)

The character of Titus Groan Music, not lacking in the grotesque and the exotic, was suggested to a certain extent by the first of Mervyn Peake’s remarkable trilogy of novels, Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone. The tape part was made first and falls into five clear-cut and continuous sections. These are entitled Gathering, Intersection, The Castle, The Mountain and The Death-Owl. The instrumental parts were written after the completion of the tape. The horn part is isolated from the woodwind quartet and, with its modulated sounds, represents a bridge between the tape and the straight instrumental sound. The sintrumental music has its own cyclic structure which runs parallel to that of the tape but only rarely converges with it, for example at the end of the piece.

The idea of sound transformation is common to all aspects of the music. The tape contains a considerable amount of modulated music. The sound of the horn is also modulated. The woodwind is amplified. Moreover all the instrumentalists play whistles which are an extension or sometimes a parody of the normal sounds of their instruments.

The work was originally to have been dedicated to the memory of Mervyn Peake, who died last year just after I had begun to read Titus Groan. Recently I realised the more pressing need of publicising, even on a very small scale, the fate of the Greek composer Theodorakis. Titus Groan Music is dedicated to him in the cruel exile inflicted on him by the ruling militarists.

© 1969 Tim Souster