Lines written a few miles below

(2011) 11’
for solo violin and track

Description

Lines written a few miles below was commissioned by Rambert Dance Company for a new dance work of the same title by the choreographer Malgorzata Dzierzon. The choreography for the piece draws on observations of London commuters and portrays the different ways that intimate or private behaviours, such as sleeping, eating, kissing and arguing, can manifest themselves on public transport. The music is constructed from two different elements: the first is an electronic part comprising real sounds collected during various journeys on the London Underground and the second is a live violin line, written for Thomas Gould. Occasionally percussive sounds from the live violin, music from commuters’ headphones and ghostly fragments of a busker's melody find their way into the electronic part. The title of the piece is a play on the poem Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth in which Wordsworth contemplates the ‘tranquil restoration’ of nature’s beauty. Malgorzata and I found it interesting to observe the different ways that people strive to find a personal sense of tranquility within the frenzied subterranean world of the Underground. MB

Reviews

✮✮✮✮ ‘this album of solo violin music … includes sinuous Nico Muhly, explosive Anna Meredith, atmospheric Mark Bowden and a tantalisingly short Charlie Parker classic – Donna Lee. Scythingly scintillating playing from a young virtuoso with a magpie mind’ / Richard Morris / Times

‘Among the five pieces were Mark Bowden’s
Lines Written a Few Lines Below. It fitted the dark, slightly claustrophobic venue perfectly, with its electronically enhanced evocation of a trip on the Tube’ / Ivan Hewett / Telegraph

‘Suffused with humour, colour and some unconventional moves within a restricted space - it has wit and a ragged charm’ / Neil Norman / The Stage

‘Lines Written a Few Miles Below is a sweet and charming character piece about commuters on the Underground. All human life is here, from the hipster with his iPad and top-of-the range headphones slouching on the side, to the late-night reveller with no sense of personal space nodding off onto her neighbour, to the loved-up couple mooning over each other and oblivious to the competitive commuters elbowing each other out of the way in search of a seat. It’s readable, enjoyable, and with a luscious romantic section…’ / Lise Smith / londondance.com