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That Man's Talking Nonsense

'That Man's Talking Nonsense' is a strong new work by Peter Wiegold performed for the first time in its ensemble orchestration as part of 4D Music.

" [It's] something someone said when I spoke to give an adjudication at a music competition. - a man got up and said 'That man is speaking nonsense!'. He was mad and he was removed after the third interruption, but every lecturer should have that experience once!"

"[4D Music] is a great opportunity for research. Players are improvising, playing toy percussion. We're quietly reassessing how you put a concert together, with the excuse of doing it for 11 year-olds. It gives you a freedom to explore."

Rhythms in 'That Man's Talking Nonsense' are the driving force of musical nonsense that twist and turn and grow towards being one thing before changing towards being something else. Starting in the piano, the accented rhythms dominate the piece and more fun and nonsense grows.

Terry Braun has created a forest of writhing animals and objects that grow and twist in front of your eyes in response to the music. Morphing shapes reflect the driving rhythms, while toy instruments played by four string players strangely accentuate the rhythms and provide context for the elephant lyrics, taken from a nonsense rhyme that permeates the piece:

"The elephant is a bonnie bird
It flits from bough to bough
It makes its nest in a rhubarb tree
And whistles like a cow"
The elephant bird motif appears at key moments in the piece and is one of the triggers for musicians to play toy instruments when not speaking part of the nonsense rhyme. Elsewhere, the toy instruments are used to add to the feeling of nonsense, and to enliven the timbre of the sound.

Terry Braun and Peter Wiegold agreed on an 'earthy' feel to the animation for 'That Man's Talking Nonsense' and the colour palette of deep blues, reds and browns matches the low instrumentation of bass clarinet, horn, double bass, viola and low octave piano.

The horn is picked out as a solitary voice that speaks its own mind regardless of what else the ensemble are doing, somewhat like the commentator in Wiegold's description of his inspiration for the piece above.

The piece was originally written for piano and percussion, and Wiegold has maintained and developed the strong percussive elements in the new orchestration and it is these elements that drive the animations in real time.



50.5Mb (11 minutes and 2 seconds) Video extract from 'That Man's Talking Nonsense' by Peter Wiegold, including an introduction to the audience
R & D documentary video recording
The video shown on this page was made from documentary recordings of four performances of the 4D Music concert in January 2008 using two video cameras. The main footage is from a schools performance with extracts from the other school performance and two family concerts to produce a more rounded visual presentation. The sound was recorded on two camera mics.