Ever since I heard Sisu play in South Africa at the Grahamstown Festival I wanted to write for them, and this has came to fruition at Ultima Festival in Oslo.
I was interested in writing a virtuoso piece in which the speed of the drumming was such that, rather than rhythms, I would be working with ‘planes’ of sound – planes which seemed to me to give an illusion of curving. To assist this, and help with their co-ordination, the players are grouped in a circle. Many of the patterns move around from one player to another, ascending or descending in a spiral fashion. I wanted to eliminate any hint of an ethnic quality to the music, so chose drums which are distinctly western. Also for the first time since the seventies, I’ve used some serial composition techniques, partially in acknowledgement of my teacher of 30 years ago, Stockhausen. He turns 75 the year I wrote the piece.
Like two of my other percussion pieces I have given this piece a Sanskrit name. ‘Chakra’ means ‘wheel’ – a name which reflects some moments in the piece.