Listen to Henry’s original composition submitted with his entry.

Henry Hall (Age 15, NSW)

TO COUNTRY: Primitive Atarax

I am Henry Hall, from Sydney, and am currently a year 10 student, at Epping Boys High School. In kindergarten, I first began learning violin for the school’s string orchestra, where I would happily chug away at the back of the seconds. However, (in hindsight, unreasonably)  fearing this ensemble was cramping my style, I would soon join the punk rock ensemble “The Inquisitors” and engaged in a variety of harmful sonic experiments, such as creating homemade pickups and electronic effects for my violin. In a few years, our bass player left, and I decided to take it up. Since then, I have learnt a variety of other string instruments, and I take a generalist approach to instrumentalism. I also began writing songs around this time for “The Inquisitors”. Since then, I play mostly violin, bass and mandolin in the Arts Unit’s symphony orchestra, one of Jazz Workshop Australia’s jazz combos, my Aunties folk band “The Egg Shakers” and various other self-formed groups, and ensembles at school. I have also enjoyed playing at state music and jazz camps. Right now I like contemporary improvised music in particular, and mainly compose “conditions” or “rules” for improvisation to take place, however, I still draw from and write for other genres. Certainly, this piece is a sort of culmination of my several interests.

Composition inspiration 

The Australian non-idiomatic music scene heavily influenced this piece. Trying to borrow ideas from people like Jim Denely, or the Australian Art Orchestra in ways that made sense for a symphony orchestra was my main objective. Of course, it is still formally structured music, and some of my structural and stylistic influences include The Flecktones, Linda May Han Oh and Ligeti.

Primitive Atarax is divided into two parts, the former being what Australia is typically represented as being, and the latter is what it is actually more like. Both sections are still melodic, despite being sort of dissonant, however, the latter is a lot more contemplative than the first, taking more time to convey its concept.

In this piece I try to feature some of my own theories on harmony, generally disregarding the commonly used wavelength ratio-based dissonance ideas taught in contrapuntal and polyphonic music education, this made up the “harmonic Atarax” as I am calling it, in the last half, as I stretched out a tonality beyond the octave, so that different notes had significantly different impacts depending on which octave they were placed. This halves melody is also over a relaxing 15/16, split into both 3s and 5s, unlike how it is typically used in, for example, Bulgarian music. The former half features some modern-jazz-like chords played in two-note tremolo by the strings with repetitive triplety unison brass melody over the top.