Eclectic Electric
for electric guitar and ensemble
Instrumentation: Bb cl, b cl, hrn, Bb tpt, perc (1 player: glock, vib), drum set, kbd synth, vln, bass
Duration: c. 9 min
Year: 2011
This miniature concerto for electric guitar draws on the rock tradition of virtuoso guitar soloing and applies it to a post-tonal music language. Based on scales made up of repeated interval patterns, each of the three movements is a homage to a different virtuoso guitarist and emphasises a different style of playing.
– A Selection – 
© Chris Corcoran. All rights reserved.
Motor Function
for live piano trio & two virtual piano trios on tape and video
Instrumentation: vln, cello, pno, video
Duration: c. 5 min
Year: 2012
First performed in May 2012 by Ensemble Plus-Minus at City University London.
Second performance in May 2013 by Ensemble Plus-Minus as part of the ‘Digital Shoreditch’ Festival.
A Piece (...of Birthday Cake)
for solo piano
First performed in July 2014 by Jennifer Hymer at Castello delle Rocchette, Pratoleva, Italy.
Instrumentation: pno
Duration: c. 3 min
Year: 2014
Written as a short and quirky birthday present to the composer’s father, this piece is influenced by the jazz piano style of Bill Evans and applies it to a contemporary music setting. Offering a familiar melody with a twist, the traditional song 'For he's a jolly good fellow' rises out of the background in the second half of the piece, then fades again before the final bars ring out.
How Tantalos Got the Blues
for chamber ensemble
Workshopped in January 2011 by Lontano Ensemble at King’s College London.
Instrumentation: ob, cl in Bb, bsn, hn in F, pno
Duration: c. 7 min
Year: 2011
The Sky Below
for chamber trio
Instrumentation: fl, ob, guit
Duration: c. 3 min
Year: 2011
An early miniature, this piece weaves in and out of diatonic dissonances and consonances to create a warm and gentle atmosphere.
for amplified acoustic guitar
Instrumentation: acoustic guitar, sound engineer
Duration: c. 3 min
Year: 2010
Wavelengths explores the hidden sounds of an acoustic guitar that are usually inaudible without amplification. By drawing on a wide array of techniques, including two-handed playing on the fret board, it offers a unique palette of colours and rhythms.
Playing live musicians off their virtual counterparts, Motor Function offers a wild mix of concert experience, music video, and live multimedia. Combining Latin rhythms, jazz harmonies, and rock aesthetics with classical and contemporary sounds, the stage trio and the virtual musicians throw motives and scale runs back and forth, blurring the line between reality and virtual reality. See a video of the performance here.
Major Minor Buzz
for solo cello and unspecified jazz ensemble
Commissioned by Club Inégales, London and first performed in July 2015 by Notes Inégales.
Instrumentation: cello, ensemble
Duration: c. 6 mins with the possibility of extending the piece for soloing and improvisation.
Year: 2015
Written for cellist Matthew Barley and the house band at Club Inégales, Major Minor Buzz is a 'one-page score' – a Club Inégales format which encourages composers to create snippets of thematic material that the house band then expands upon in improvisation, and which has drawn musical responses from a range of composers, including James MacMillan, John Woolrich, and Peter Wiegold.
However, Major Minor Buzz functions both as a basis for free improvisation and as a through-composed piece. Notated for solo cello with additional chord symbols and instructions for accompanying band or ensemble, it develops material through a series of twelve sections, taking listeners on a journey through a changeable landscape of lyrical cello lines, jazz-infused harmonies, and scorching rhythms.
Not A Sonata
for unspecified ensemble
Commissioned by Club Inégales, London and first performed in January 2015 by cellist Matthew Barley and Notes Inégales.
Instrumentation: unspecified ensemble
Duration: open
Year: 2015
Chris’s second ‘one-page score’ for Club Inégales focuses on non-linear musical structures. The 'one-page score', a format frequently commissioned by Club Inégales, is traditionally a collection of musical snippets that fuel the improvisations of the club’s house band. The unique challenge of creating something free and yet composed has drawn musical responses from a range of composers, including James MacMillan and John Woolrich.
Not A Sonata takes the concept one step further. Ranging from driven and funky to soft and gentle, the piece features seven through-composed sections that can be played in any order – since all were carefully crafted to perfectly align with each other. In addition, the piece specifies five motifs that can be interjected by any player at any time and still make musical sense (unless specified), encouraging players to depart from the written score on a whim.
The combination of movable sections and flexible motifs allows ensembles to craft their own unique interpretation of this piece, with many sections affording the more adventurous players with an opportunity for extended soloing or improvisation, while the through-composed nature of the piece ensures structure and a musical narrative. As a result, Not A Sonata is a jazzy and fiery playground for creative performers that will delight and surprise an audience in equal measure.
“Great—spunky and funky, shades of Andriessen’s Workers Union.” – Peter Wiegold
Drive My Toy Car
(An arrangement of Drive My Car by the Beatles)
for solo toy piano grand OR solo piano
Toy piano versioned commissioned by the
Non-Piano/Toy Piano festival in Hamburg, Germany.
First performed at Indra, Hamburg in October 2015 by
Isabel Ettenauer as part of the festival.
Piano version first performed in December 2015 by
Martin Butler at Club Inégales, London.
Instrumentation: pno / toy pno grd (3 octaves: F-F)
Duration: c. 5 mins
Year: 2015
View PDF sample pages of the toy piano version and of the piano version.
This arrangement of the classic Beatles song Drive My Car was commissioned by the Non-Piano/Toy Piano festival in 2015.
Taking the song both back to its blues roots and forward to new harmonic frontiers, this arrangement re-instates the heavy blues shuffle rhythm that the Beatles did away with while also adding complex chromatic structures. The result is a whimsical, yet grooving and lyrical homage that teases listeners with run-away bass lines and spontaneous rhythm changes.
Different Kind of Scene
for mixed jazz ensemble
Commissioned by Club Inégales, London and first performed in December 2015 by Notes Inégales.
Instrumentation: vln, trp, elec gtr, bass gtr, pno, opt. kbd, drum set
Duration: c. 10 mins with the possibility of extending the piece for soloing and improvisation.
Year: 2015
Written as the final piece of Chris’s year-long composer residency with Club Inégales, Different Kind of Scene is a fully scored composition that allows room for optional free improvisation as well as soloing over a comp section.
Notes Inégales, the club’s house ensemble who performed the premiere, often practice their own kind of free group improvisation in performance; departing from the written score, they improvise on the scored music under the leadership of a conductor, whose gestures control the direction and instrumentation of the improvisation. Inspired by this practice, Different Kind of Scene invites musicians to veer off the page at pivotal moments and explore the composed material in improvisations, with occasional suggestions on how to start.
The result is a seamless blend of composed and improvised music that at times turns softly melodic  and forcefully funky.
One of the composer's early works, this five-movement chamber piece fuses contemporary post-tonal harmonies and Blues sounds. Each of the short movements offers a fragmented variation on a theme, which itself is only fully stated in the climactic final movement. The work explores the topic of suffering, with each movement named after a famous Blues song, drawing parallels between the suffering expressed in Blues lyrics and Greek tragedy.
Slow Motion – A Game of Pulse and Time
for chamber orchestra
Instrumentation: picc, fl, ob, Bb bass cl, bsn, 2 hn, 2 C tpt, 2 perc (glock., SD), pno, strings
Duration: c. 5 min
Year: 2011
Using rhythms from contemporary dance music, the piece at times asserts and subverts the underlying beat by changing the rhythmic ratios, abruptly slowing down or speeding up the music. The result is a haunting effect that reveals the usually hidden fine grain of the orchestral sound spectrum, as if individual harmonies and textures were suddenly being watched in slow motion.
Electric Quintet
for electric guitar and string quartet
Commissioned by guitarist Heiko Ossig. Recorded in a
workshop by Heiko Ossig and the Ligeti String Quartet
in July 2018.
Instrumentation: E guit, 2 vln, vla, cello
Duration: c. 8 mins
Year: Composed 2016, recorded 2018.
Written for the guitarist Heiko Ossig, Electric Quintet explores the technical and sonic synthesis of an amplified electric guitar and a string quartet. Initially contrasting fiery electric guitar techniques against intricate string lines, the material is developed through a series of variations that range from fugal forms to rocky guitar solos, from an all-harmonics articulation to pure glissandi. Over the course of these variations, the instrumental contrast diminishes until, in the final section, the guitar and strings join together to become the titular electric quintet.
The Birmingham Groove
for chamber ensemble
Recorded in a workshop by the Birmingham
Contemporary Music Group at Cambridge University
in March 2018.
Instrumentation: ob, hrn, vln, cello, marimba
Duration: c. 3 mins
Year: 2018
Written for a workshop with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, this piece combines groovy rhythms and changing asymmetrical time signatures. Together, the complex syncopations and cross-layered rhythms form a forward-driving network of musical events that keeps the feet tapping and the mind racing.
Deep Blue Windows
for viola and piano
Commissioned by Concerto di Dublino.
First performed by Adele Govier and Fergal Caulfield
(both National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland) in Orvieto
and Bolsena, Italy, July 2018.
Instrumentation: viola, piano
Duration: c. 7 mins
Year: 2018
Deep Blue Windows is a lyrical piece that sets slow-moving jazzy piano chords against outbursts of yearning, blues-like melody lines in the viola. Moments of calm alternate with sections of melodic movement, rhythmic and modulational motion slowly increases, growing more and more, until eventually leading into a furious viola solo with an almost rock-like piano accompaniment. As the solo culminates in a series of sharp and increasingly climbing harmonics on the viola, the piano harmonies disintegrate, splintering into extremes, before the piece halts... and eases back into the contemplative stillness of the opening chords.
Kandinsky’s Swing
Electracoustic work around an improvisation to
Kandinsky’s painting Swinging
Commissioned by Dr Tone Roald for the Moving
Art conference at the Department of Psychology,
University of Copenhagen, 1 September 2018.
Duration: 5 mins
Year: 2018
I have always been fascinated by Kandinsky's
painting Swinging, ever since I first saw it as a
student at the Tate Modern Gallery in London.
The suggestive nature of the title, along with the
vibrant use of colour and asymmetrical geo-
metrical patterns, immediately evoked in me a
musical sense of rhythmic swing, improvisation,
and variation of repeated motifs. I instantly
thought of Swinging when Dr Tone Roald
commissioned me to compose a piece of music for the Moving Art conference, which dealt with
viewers pre-reflective (i.e. instinctive) responses to visual art, and especially the sense of rhythm that art can evoke in viewers.
I began looking for ways to write a composition that could connect to these concepts. I found myself improvising on a keyboard while looking at Kandinsky’s painting, and realised I could capture these instinctive responses to art by recording myself. Then I took a cue from Kandinsky's striking use of colour and illustrated the recorded ‘monochrome’ electric piano improvisation with bright orchestral sounds while I composed around it. Composing music around the improvisation allowed me to take the patterns and shapes that my subconscious had created iwhile improvising and make them explicit by subjecting them to the kind of variation I had always associated with the colours and asymmetrical shapes of the painting.
Due to its basis in improvisation, the resulting composition is wildly changeable: at times fast and violent, at times slow and sweet. In combining improvised and composed materials, it captures both my post- and pre-reflective responses to Swinging—and hopefully also some of the swing that is so apparent in Kandinsky’s work.