Lucy McPhee – April 4, 1968 (2018)

Commissioned by Tŷ Cerdd and premiered on 4/4/18 as part of St. David’s Hall’s NightMusic series.

Programme Note:

‘April 4, 1968,’ is written to remember the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. The melodic material is made from a chromatic cypher of April 4th.
I have taken three quotes from his final speech entitled ‘I have been to the mountaintop.’
These three quotes then make up my movement titles.
1. only when it is dark enough can you see the stars…
2. We want to be free
3. I’m not fearing any man

Movement 1 is contemplative, the triplets versus quaver cross rhythm represents the struggles that black people were facing at this time.  However, while writing this movement I imagined Martin Luther King sitting, watching the stars and thinking of how far the civil rights movement had come.  During the second movement the harmonics suggest the hope of being free.  This sound world is paired with the representation of oppression through the triplet.  Through the movement the harmonics become less frequent as the triplets become more prominent.  Movement 3 has constant quaver movement throughout (excluding two bars). This moves and builds through the movement, it is confident and not afraid.  Martin Luther King was aware of the danger he faced, however he did not let this affect him. The dotted crotchet = 62, within the range of a resting heart beat, I wanted this to reflect Martin Luther King’s calm
demeanour. The two bars that do not have the quaver movement represent the firing of the lethal shot. The idea of the guitars being in unison at the end of each movement is important, suggesting that whatever happens through the civil rights movement, black people carried on standing up for what was right, defying oppression.