New Hockets

flute and piano (1985)

Duration: ca. 5 minutes

New Hockets  for flute and piano (1985) explores n the  use of hocket, the dividing up of a single melodic line between 2 or more instruments.  This is a musical device which is found not only in the western musical tradition, most notably in the music of the Middle Ages, but also quite frequently in the music of other cultures, for example Indonesian gamelan music.  New Hockets was initially inspired by a set of pieces found in the ‘Bamberg Codex’, a late thirteenth-century manuscript.  These seven pieces are believed by some to be among the earliest surviving examples compositions intended  specifically for instrumental performance.  In addition to that distinction, these pieces also display a very sophisticated musical construction based on the the technique of ‘hocket’. 

As described at the time, a hocket was “a sort of music sounded in a broken way by actual sounds and their omission”, in other words, it involved the dividing up of a single melodic line into 2 or more parts. As this was most often in a short-long rhythmic pattern it was thought to resemble a hiccup (hocket is Latin for hiccup).  This technique was very popular with composers in the late 13th and 14th centuries and eventually a Papal edict was required to ban its vigorous melodic and rhythmic style!