|Musical Editions||Study score|
Michael Nyman's Musique A Grande Vitesse (MGV) translates as ‘high speed music’ and was commissioned by the Festival de Lille for the inauguration of the TGV NorthEuropeanParis-Lille line in 1993.
This piece of sheet music runs continuously, but was conceived as an abstract, imaginary journey; or rather five inter-connected journeys, each ending with a slow, mainly stepwise melodywhich isonly heard in its 'genuine' form when the piece reaches its destination.
Thematic 'transformation' is a key to MGV as a whole. Throughout the piece ideas - rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, motivic,textural -constantly change their identity as they pass through different musical 'environments'.
The opening bars establish both a recurrent rhythmic principle - 9, 11, or 13-beat rhythmic cycles heard against a regular 8- and aharmonic process - chord sequences (mainly over C and E) which have the note E in common. (Coincidentally, MGV begins in C and ends in E). A later scalic, syncopated figure (again first heard over C, E andA)begins the second section, featuring Brass, in D flat.
The topography of MGV should be experienced without reference to planning, description or timetables. Its tempo changes and unpredictable slowingsdownbear no logical relation to the high speed of the Paris-Lille journey, while the temptation to treat MGV as a concerto grosso, with the Michael Nyman band as the ripeno, was resisted: more suitablytheband (amplified in live performance) lays down the tracks on which MGV runs.