Sarah Henderson


for symphony orchestra

3 fl, 3 ob, 3 cl, bcl, 2 bn, cbn, 4 hn, 3 tpt, 2 trbn, btrb, tuba, perc, strings

duration: 10 minutes


1. A whirling mass of water or air, a whirlpool or whirlwind.
2. A thing viewed as swallowing things which approach it.
(Oxford Paperback Dictionary, third edition, 1988.)

There are two main ideas behind Vortex. The first is an old idea that I had in my mind for some time before I began work on the piece. I imagined what it might be like to be swallowed into a vortex, of gradually being sucked further in until destruction. There are three clear sections, each one of which represents a different part of the descent into the vortex.

For some time I have been interested in dance music, particularly in trance and techno. In Vortex I wanted to take the main features of techno, (the use of several small cells of material, rhythmic, harmonic and melodic, which are layered on top of one another; The building up and stripping away of these layers which equates to the building up to and coming away from climaxes; The use of a prominent or heavy bass line; excessive repetition and a constant 4/ 4 beat) and use these as the basis of my piece. I wanted to recreate the relentless, mechanical feeling found in techno and to experiment with that.

As I was interested in using some of the techniques used in techno I decided I would take some rhythmic ideas from a particular tune and work with them. I took three small rhythmic cells from Pursuit by Green Velvet. These three cells form all the rhythmic material that is used in Vortex.

The piece is divided into 3 sections, each depicting a different part of the imaginary vortex:

Section A: is the approach
Section B: is the descent
Section C: is the final moments

The last section is where the techno idea is heard most strongly.

Vortex is my first orchestral piece and is dedicated to my grandmother for her financial help while I was studying for my Masters Degree.

Sarah Henderson
I studied music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow where I gained an Honours Degree in music. I specialised in piano performance and composition. I studied piano with Vanessa Latarche and Jean Hutchinson and composition with various teachers including James MacMillan, Rita MacAllister and Tom Wilson. While at the RSAMD, I took part in an exchange program at Queen's University in Canada. I also had a public performance of my piece 'Perdita' for string quartet by members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

I have recently completed my Masters Degree at Goldsmiths college in London where I studied composition with Phil Cashian. While I was at Goldsmiths college I received a performance of 'Now Your Face has Set' for harp and percussion.

Since leaving college I have been setting up my own business in massage and Reiki. Doing this has taught me much about myself and life and has broadened my mind to things that I would not previously believed were possible. I am passionate about dance music and club culture and in the last year, thanks to my boyfriend Yaniv, have opened my ears to trance. I am now teaching myself to DJ, a musical journey that I am sure will be full of fun and enjoyment.

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