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Homage to Metallica : for orchestra

by Matthew Hindson (1993)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

Performance by Sydney Symphony, Simone Young, Martin Lass

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Four orchestral works


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Homage to Metallica


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Homage to Metallica : for orchestra / by Matthew Hindson

Library shelf no. Q 784.2/HIN 3 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

Homage to Metallica was written by Matthew Hindson in 1993 "not just as a tribute to this particular band, but rather to the whole genre of heavy metal music". The listener needs no knowledge of Metallica songs to be taken into Hindson's fantastical world.

Heavy metal music often centres around the 'evil' interval of the tritone and the semitone. These intervals are found in the Locrian mode which some centuries earlier was consider an illegal interval. The 'illegal' takes on a more confronting reality in the heavy metal world of dark satanic fantasy. But Hindson is not trying to encourage devil worship; rather, he is attracted to "the extreme sense of theatricality, virtuosity and rhythmic energy that is so representative of this style".

Instrumentally, the use of a 1/8th sized solo violin may at first appear to belong to the school string class (and indeed this is where Hindson, a string co-ordinator at MLC School, conceived the idea) but once amplified and played in 'thrash' style it becomes an entirely different musical weapon. The small fingerboard allows for rapid leaps, while wide glissandi and the scratchy tone (this is no Strad!) helps to conjure the timbre of a distortion guitar.

Distinctive melodic lines in parallel semitones are featured in the solo violin and also in the trombones (chosen partly for their glissandi capability) which take on the timbre of a car horn or, as in the opening of the piece, and air-raid siren. One is alternatively flung between 'road rage' and 'War of the Universe'.

Homage to Metallica, however, does not exist in a completely dark world. There are passages of ecstatic tonal harmony towards which the music is often moving. These brilliant major-chord hues are just as crucial to the piece as the dark menace of the Locrian-based harmony, and one only needs to look at Hindson's catalogue of works to find similar ideas in pieces such as In Search of Ecstasy, Rave-Elation and Chrissietina's Magic Fantasy.

Written for large orchestra with triple winds, the piece opens with massive orchestral blows measured out by glissandi trombones and the explosive clanging anvil which tolls like a prelude to Armageddon. The orchestra builds up to an ecstatic melée of virtuosity before subsiding to solitary harp arpeggios in E minor. Soulful melodies in the cor anglais and solo viola start a process of textural crescendo which leads to a passage for the solo violin. This sets up the thrash ('rhythmic energy') in repeated notes which remain for the majority of the piece, reinforced by pounding bass drum crotchets and (later) racing rototom patterns. The melodic material here is modally clear in a style of high drama.

A second passage for the solo violin, this time a cadenza, suspends rhythmic motion in favour of a more solitary exploration of the instrument - heavy metal Paganini! The coda is marked 'apocalyptic' and brass triads alternate in E and B flat major (a tritone apart) creating an aura of Wagnerian splendour underscored by the thrash motive in one last surge towards ecstasy in E major.

Notes by Stuart Greenbaum, 1997

Work Details

Year: 1993

Instrumentation: 3 piccolos (2nd & 3rd doubling flute), 2 oboes, cor anglais, E flat clarinet, clarinet in B flat, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 5 horns, 3 trumpets in C (3rd doubling trumpet in B flat), 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (2 players), harp, strings, amplified 1/8 size solo violin.

Duration: 15 min.

Difficulty: Medium — Professional or professional-standard.

Commission note: Composed for the 1993 National Orchestral Composers' School.

First performance: by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra — Sep 93. Adelaide Town Hall.


Program note: Matthew Hindson's "Homage to metallica"
by Matthew Hindson
Source: the score of this work

Article: Dawn of a new world symphony
by Gordon Kerry — © News Limited
Source: Source: The Australian, 24 March 2009, pp.13

Book: 1997 Meet the Music 4 : resource kit / Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Book: Meet the music : Australian composition resource kit, 1997.


Performances of this work

7 Feb 14: Napier Municipal Theatre, New Zealand. Featuring Benjamin Northey, NZ SO National Youth Orchestra.

6 Feb 14: Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Taon Wellington. Featuring NZ SO National Youth Orchestra, Benjamin Northey.

30 Mar 12: Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, Kitchener, ON Canada. Featuring Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Edwin Outwater.

29 Mar 12: Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, Kitchener, ON Canada. Featuring Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Edwin Outwater.

Aug 97: Sydney Opera House. Featuring Sydney Symphony, Simone Young, Martin Lass.

Sep 93: Adelaide Town Hall.. Featuring Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

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