The Fifth Element

for solo oboe

James Williamson

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for solo oboe

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Composer James Williamson
Year of Composition 2012
Duration 5'15"
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-jw2tfe1


The Fifth Element conveys my current compositional thinking of creating music through minimal means and forming compositional writing processes that embody the action of ‘less is more’. The piece is built around simple foundations – a repetition of a short six bar phrase, which is transposed around a cycle of fifths, keeping the same rhythm each time. The phrase ends with a raucous quasicadential multiphonic, that leads to the next fifth of the cycle. Grace notes are added, as well as timbral-flutters and breathy key rattles to add a further layer of texture and colour. Additionally, an optional piano part (subject to availability) acts as a resonator for the oboe and space, rather than an accompaniment. The oboist is to play directly into the piano (with pedal down) to tease out and resonate the accented grace notes (cycling the fifths), thus creating another underlying layer of colour. The piece ends how it started with the opening few bars suggesting an infinite amount of times the cycle can be repeated.

This work has been selected for inclusion in the New Oboe Music Project Collection. For more information on the Project please visit