Programme Note

In typography, a ligature forms when two separate letters are combined together to create one shape; often fused together to create a common line or curve. This idea of generating unity between two separate objects inspired the creation of this short composition for marimba duo.

Ligature (2019) opens with the contrasting of two distinct musical gestures. The soft rumbling harmony in the bass is almost immediately interrupted by a fast, stark statement of reiterated notes. After being introduced, these gestures begin to slightly, but not entirely, overlap, resulting in an unusual musical fabric wherein different scales and metres drift in and out of alignment with one another. This, together with an increase in tempo and register, culminates into an intense climax with both players reaching the highest notes on the shared instrument. Following a reprise of the opening repeated-note motive, the metres finally lock into alignment by forming an aggregate of regular and irregular time, with the fusing of both metres symbolising the morphing of two letters into one. This new metre gently rocks the piece to completion.


An example of how a ligature forms between two letters

Overall, Ligature deals with how initially separate objects can be integrated to form a new sonic body. The work can be seen as an exploration into the correlation between the processes by which letters create words, and notes create music.

Programme note written by the composer



5-octave Marimba (2 players;  4 hands)


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Year(s) of Composition:
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The music of composer Conrad Asman (b. 1996) has gained international recognition as being “innovative and cutting edge” (Chorosynthesis) and spans a wide emotional range from “heart-rending” (The Esoterics), to “fun and festive” (Creative Feel). His works have been performed in Africa, Asia, Europe and America in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the Jinji Lake Concert Arena. Engagements with ensembles such as the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, the Esoterics singers, the CHROMA ensemble and the Cape Town Youth Choir have led to his work winning multiple major awards, scholarships and commissions worldwide.