Tarik O'Regan

(Flugel Elements)
for tenor sax, flugelhorn, vibraphone, piano, double bass and percussion

duration: 6 minutes

Cliches (Flugel Elements)
Prelude, Fugue and Blues for Jazz Sextet

1. cliché, n.: A trite or overused expression or idea; a hackneyed phrase or opinion.
2. cliché, nom masculin: A negative; printing plate; cliché.

Interestingly, it is the French who have re-appropriated the English definition as an additional classification to their own. The word itself, in French, is an evolution from the phonetic imitation of the sound a matrix makes when dropped into molten metal to make a stereotype plate. Thus cliché became the name printers used for typeset blocks prior to making the initial impression. The ever-vigilant print-workers would save precious time by keeping clichés made-up ready for stock phrases or quotes. Hence when "birds of a feather flock together" needed to be inserted, for example, they would not re-set the type, but would instead slot in a cliché.

With this more precise evolutionary description, I have chosen the jazz medium to explore a deliberate use of cliché. I have always been struck by the great jazz players’ vocabulary of stock phrases, riffs, hooks and stings which can be inserted at convenient moments into the standard repertoire. Furthermore, jazz arrangers and composers also use particular anchors, motifs and orchestrations which carry a stylistic topic often understood to be a tribute or reference. The fugal elements, at the heart of this composition’s rubric, are of course themselves derived from a baroque cliché too, where the lexicon of potential ready-made insertions was just as important.

Therefore, I have sought by use of a standard ‘Blue Note’ instrumentation (as in the 1963 Lee Morgan ‘Sidewinder’ sessions for Blue Note Records, with the addition of Milt Jackson on vibraphone for example), among other means, to pre-empt the inevitable charge of being cliché-ridden.

Tarik O’Regan, August 2000

Tarik O'Regan (b.1978) is currently completing his D.Phil. in Musical Composition at New College, Oxford having previously studied at Pembroke College, Oxford (B.A.) and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (M.Phil.).

His works have been performed by, among many others, the BBC Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Martyn Brabbins), the London Sinfonietta (Martyn Brabbins), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (Pierre-André Valade), BBC Singers (Bob Chilcott), New College Choir (Edward Higginbottom), Clare College Choir (Tim Brown) and James Bowman. His compositions have been selected for various international festivals and for regular national broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and for television on BBC 2.

Tarik O'Regan is a classical recordings reviewer for The Observer newspaper and a supervisor in 20th century music history, analysis and composition for various Colleges in Cambridge University.

Published by Oxford University Press and Sulasol, Helsinki, he was recently awarded a prestigious MacDowell Fellowship in the USA.

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