Sonata for Tuba and Piano
duration: 21’
GRT • 216

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
I. Akiyoshido Limestone Cave, Japan, Paleozoic Age
“hollowed by the work of water over immensities of time”

II. Navigating the Labyrinth, Paris Catacombs, early Middle Ages
“over 600 years of quarrying…the invisible city”

III. Drilling for ice-core samples, Antarctica and Greenland, 1950’s
“Ice has a memory and the colour of this memory is blue”

IV. Detecting dark-matter, Boulby underground salt mine laboratory, UK, 1990’s
“sometimes in darkness you can see more clearly”

V. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway 2008
“for the preservation of biodiversity”

VI. Onkalo nuclear waste burial chamber, Finland 2038
“to keep the future safe from the present”

Why do humans go underground? To seek shelter from weather or enemies; to hide or safeguard objects of value; to quarry and mine; to dispose of waste; to bury the dead (with or without possessions); to commune in secrecy or in worship; to explore the unknown (including adventuring); to do scientific research on the planet and the wider Universe. In his 2019 book, Underland, Robert MacFarlane explores these themes: “In the underland we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save”.

Sonata for Tuba and Piano is the 19th in a series of sonatas written in the new millennium. It was written for Tim Buzbee toward the end of 2019 upon return from a month in Japan where I was in residence at the Akiyoshidai International Art Village, also having visited the nearby Akiyoshido limestone cave.