Tim Parkinson by Bryn Harrison (Counterpoints, May/June 1999)
It can often be difficult (and rather paradoxical) to write of a music that speaks largely for itself ? to fall into the trap of using one language to express another. As I made notes for this article I found myself facing the same paradox ? how to comment on a music that asks only one thing of the listener ? to listen.
Tim himself has, in the past, expressed this same difficulty with regard to choosing titles for pieces. ?any?, ?both?, or ?violin and piano piece? might just as well be described as ?non-titles? since they lead us nowhere and convey no direct sense of meaning. They are, however, entirely fitting since they intelligently allow an associative freedom on the part of the listener.
These are pieces in which notes quietly collide, brush against each other or simply co-exist in a state of harmonious indifference. What we, the listener, are presented with is a time frame in which rates of change can be contained. Pieces such as ?both?, ?violin and piano piece? or ?straw dogs? might even be better described as musical assemblages due to the way in which the material is presented; the two parts require only an approximate sense of co-ordination.
There is here, I feel, a nod towards indifference, but not without a certain sense of caution - accepting freedom yet respecting the attendant responsibility that comes with that freedom. For Tim, these responsibilities seem to lie in making intentional the unintentional, and of creating something that is ?artfully artless?. Such statements may appear once more paradoxical. Tim, on the other hand, would perhaps rather modestly say that he was simply ?fond of ?junk? and how to present it?.
What these assemblages contain for me is a sense of clarity, both in line and texture. These are pieces that, despite their apparent simplicity, require prolonged time scales in order to draw the listener sufficiently into the fabric of the music and to give us time to let go of a sense of association. As we become more and more immersed in the music, thought becomes subjugated to non-thought, boundaries disappear and, as words fail us, we start to listen.
Bryn Harrison, March 1999