for violin, piano
15 mins.

First performed at Birmingham Arts Lab on 7th January 1976 by Chris Rowland and Giles Swayne.

Programme notes

Duo was written in November and December 1975, and was first performed by Christopher Rowland and myself at Birmingham Arts Lab on 7th January 1976. Around that time there was a flurry of excited press speculation about a series of photographs thought to show the Loch Ness monster. In an idle moment I drew a squiggly line on the wall of my workroom – a stylised representation of Nessie’s curves as popularly imagined: a series of gradually diminishing loops. It struck me that this could also be seen as a model of a musical form which progressed by compression rather than by elaboration; and this is how Duo works. Or at least, it was planned that way. In the event I cheated here and there, overlapping the loops in a few places; and one of the loops got rather out of hand, causing a large bulge near the monster’s rear end. However, the overall plan consists of nine loops of music and a short coda (tail). Each loop is slightly more compressed and ordered than its predecessor, and the resulting piece moves from extravagance to economy, and from clutter to what I hope is clarity.

Giles Swayne 2008


. . . a characteristically fertile, quickwitted, elegantly executed invention inspired by images of the Loch Ness monster.

– Financial Times

a splendid, extended work by Giles Swayne . . . where a personal language and expression are brilliantly matched.

– Daily Telegraph