Simple States of Matter

Programme Note

Simple States of Matter is an exploration into the world of matter and its ability to change shape and form. Whilst there is theoretically an assortment of these states including plasma and Bose-Einstein condensate, this composition focuses on the primary three states of gaseous, liquid and solid forms of matter which regular humans interact with on a daily basis. The three movements can be played separately, but as a set (ordered I-II-III or III-II-I according to the player’s discretion) convey the transformation between these states. Furthermore, the studies all focus on using material that strengthens the performer’s cross-hand technique.

The Gaseous movement features a row of pitches that, through the interspersing of random moments of rest, evoke an unsettled atmosphere. This texture is then juxtaposed with swelling gestures that rise and fall across the low and middle registers of the piano. The movement ends with a briefly held low B-flat, the only note of significant sustain, which is interrupted with the final short pitch, E. Overall, the work suggests the instability and unpredictability qualities intrinsic to gases.

Liquid, in contrast, features a fluidic ostinato texture shared between the hands, with the melody plucked on top. The movement’s ostinato goes through many transformations of growth and decay, venturing across all the extreme areas of the register. The second half of the movement features the addition of the low D-flat pedal tone, which completes the ostinato’s harmony. Liquid ends with the fluidic texture finishing with a sudden, short, upwards flourish.

A strong, upwards gesture using double-octaves rips open the Solid movement. A brisk, fast-paced dancing texture dominates the movement featuring triadic harmonics moving in real-transposing voice leadings, resulting in a polymodal sounding environment. This movement ends with a rush of thickly voiced chords at an obliterating fortissimo dynamic.

This work was written for concert pianist George Fu for the RAM Composer’s Project: Piano Etudes concert.

Programme note written by the composer


Solo Piano


Get Full Score Here

Year(s) of Composition:
Back to top


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.