Selected Compositions & Improvisation Projects

Twelve Études

solo guitar 45' (2008)

Composed over a ten-year period, Twelve Études explore, through what Dwyer describes as 'hidden pedagogy', the challenges that 20th- and 21-st century music presents to the modern guitarist technically and interpretatively. They were described by guitarist Fabio Zanon as the ‘summation of an entire guitar epoch’. Below left is a video of the full score of the Twelve Études with a complete recording by Benjamin Dwyer (released on Gamelan Records in 2008). Below right is a video of Dwyer performing Étude No. 6 'African Print'  from 2019.

Umbilical

Baroque violin, double bass, harpsichord, tape and Butoh dancer 55' (2011)

 

Umbilical was written for Barry Guy, Maya Homburger, David Adams, and Butoh dancer Sayoko Onishi. Based on traditional Japanese and ancient Greek music, it is a radical, textless version of Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus that focuses on Jocasta’s experiences of sexual desire and the consequent burden of knowledge that she has transgressed a fundmental societal taboo by making a lover of her son; an action that culminates in her tragic fate. Umbilical is available on Diatribe Records.

 

The video shows a rehearsal of movement 3: 'Exorkismos'

what is the word (triptych with interludes)

violin, guitar, double bass & narrator 32' (2019)

A response to the words of Samuel Beckett. A triptych based on three texts: Neither; Worstward Ho (excerpt); and What is the word (Beckett's last poem).

 

This video shows an excerpt from a live performance at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, with Barry Guy (double bass), Maya Homburger (violin), Conor Lovett (Theatre Gare St Lazare Ireland, narrator) and Benjamin Dwyer (guitar) on 17 December 2019.

KnowingUnknowing

improvised triptych for dance and amplified guitar/prepared & bowed guitar (Helen Kindred dancer, Benjamin Dwyer guitar, prepared guitar, bowed guitar) c. 30' (2016)

Inspired by various texts by Samuel Beckett, Ted Hughes and Martin Heidegger, KnowingUnknowing explores the liminal spaces between the body and the zones it occupies, the conscious and the unconscious, movement and stillness, sound and silence, sight and gesture. KnowingUnknowing also appears as an experimental improvised film by Pete Gomes, which  appears on a new CD/DVD entitled KnowingUnkowing released on Farpoint Recordings in 2019. The videos below feature an introduction to KnowingUnknowing by Benjamin Dwyer outlining some of the original concepts and influences behind the work, and an excerpt from the released film (Farpoint Recordings, 2019). 

HAG (from SacrumProfanum)

amplified flute and bowed guitar, 13’ (2018)

HAG is a sonic interrogation of identity and power exploring historic and contemporary attempts by various power structures to control the untamed power of the female body. In HAG, Dwyer situates the enigmatic pre-Christian sheela-na-gigs (stone carvings of female figures that provocatively expose enlarged vulvas) as enduring cultural icons, which have been subjugated and projected upon by the religious, gender, sexual, and socio-political contexts of the passing ages, sometimes literally mutilated and defiled before finally being given the name ‘sheela-na-gig’, and with it, a degenerated and circumscribed identity.

Below left is a video of the premiere of HAG at the New Music from Ireland concert in Chapter Arts Cardiff with Emma Coulthard and Benjamin Dwyer on 17 March 2019. Below right is a short film on some of the fieldwork carried out by Dwyer while researching for the SacrumProfanum project to which HAG and Gierador (below) belong. 

Umwelt V

improvisation for solo guitar, 22' (2020)

This is a film of a solo free improvisation that was recorded on 3 August 2020 in a studio in Dublin by filmmaker Lucía Dwyer. This improvisation makes use of prepared guitar techniques devised by Dwyer and features his use of a bow and other techniques. By deconstructing the instrument, new, hidden instruments have been liberated; new compositional possibilities have been unleashed. 

Umwelt V is part part of Dwyer's Umwelten ('environments') series, which emerged out of his responses to the psychological, emotional and physical effects the Covid-19 lockdowns. These pieces also engage with the proposition of Umwelt Theory at the core of current biosemiotics, which explores the latitudes and limits of human consciousness and perception .

Gierador (from SacrumProfanum)

film, 20’ (2015)

 

A collaboration between Benjamin Dwyer and American filmmaker Dylan Griffith, Gierador is a visual and sonic interrogation of identity and power exploring historic and contemporary attempts by various power structures to control the untamed power of the female body. In Gierador, Griffith and Dwyer situate the enigmatic pre-Christian sheela-na-gigs (stone carvings of female figures that provocatively expose enlarged vulvas) as enduring cultural icons, which have been subjugated and projected upon by the religious, gender, sexual, cultural and political contexts of the passing ages, sometimes literally mutilated and defiled before finally being given the name ‘sheela-na-gig’, and with it, a degenerated and circumscribed identity.

Gierador premiered at the Belfast Book Festival in 2015 at the Crescent Arts Centre.

still from Gierador

Dyland Griffith

Sobre los Ángeles

soprano & guitar (prepared guitar) 30' (2017)

This is a song cycle based on texts by the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti (1902-1999) from his collection of the same title. The work was premiered at the Barrow River Festival on 22 March 2017 with soprano Sylvia O'Brien.

with Sylvia O'Brien

photo: Brian Kavanagh

Scenes from Crow

amplified mixed ensemble, soprano, tape 45' (2009)

 

Written for the VOX21 ensemble, Scenes from Crow is an sonic re-imagining of Ted Hughes’s controversial Crow: From the Life and Songs of Crow. Drawing upon the shamanistic cultures of first-nation peoples and the Inuit, the music attempts to capture the poetry's ritualistic, surreal and apocalyptic visions. It is available on Diatribe Records.

 

"An intense, deeply personal, often enigmatic response to the poems..."

The Irish Times

image:  Johannes Heisig

Concerto No. 2 for Guitar and Orchestra

25' (2007)

 

Concerto No. 2 for Guitar and Orchestra was commissioned by the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and premiered by the distinguished Brazilian guitarist Fabio Zanon.

with Fabio Zanon

Complete Catalogue

 

 

Five Sicilian Preludes

solo guitar (25') 2020

Hommage à Ligeti

solo guitar (15') 2020

Umwelten V

solo guitar improvisation (22') 2020

 

Umwelten I-IV

bass clarinet & accordion (18') 2020

 

five disjecta (after Beckett)

solo guitar (12') 2019

what is the word (triptych with interludes)

guitar (prepared guitar), violin, double bass and narrator (35')

(text: Samuel Beckett) 2019

six residua (after Beckett)

solo violin (13') 2019

HAG

amplified flute and bowed guitar (10') 2018

Tombeau sur la mort de Claude Debussy

guitar (6') 2018

Sobre los Ángeles

soprano and guitar, prepared guitar (one player)

(text: Rafael Alberti)

30' (2017)

 

KnowingUnknowing

amplified guitar, prepared guitar (one player) and dancer

(improvised composition and choreography)

30' (2016)

Nocturnal, after Benjamin Britten
piano trio

23' (2015)

 

Gierador
video installation (with film maker Dylan Griffith)

20' (2015)

 

jouissance…
shakuhachi

13' (2013)

 

Étude
Piano
6’ (2013)

imagines obesae et aspectui ingratae
viola
20' (2013)

Umbilical
Baroque violin, double bass, harpsichord, tape
(optional Butoh dancer)
55' (2011)


Scenes from Crow
amplified mixed ensemble, soprano, tape
45' (2009)


Dos estudios avanzados

guitar

8' (2008, 2012)

 

Eight Simple Studies

guitar

8' (2008, 2012)

 

Twelve Studies

guitar

8' (2008, 2012)

 

Soneto del Amor Oscuro

flute (doubling alto and sliding flutes), percussion

15' (1996, 2011)

 

Crow

amplified flute (with sliding head-joint), tape

13' (version 2010)

 

In Memoriam Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

3222 422, timpani, 3 percussion, harp, piano, celeste, strings

16' (2009)

 

Four Japanese Prints

amplified bass flute, alto flute, flute, piccolo (one player), amplified piano

10' (2009)

 

Sueños Lentos (Sloe Dreams) [Portrait]

piano

4' (2009)

 

Twelve Études for Guitar

guitar

40' (2008)

 

Concerto No. 1 for Guitar and Strings

guitar and strings

18' (1998, 2008)

 

Passacaille

Baroque violin, harpsichord

7' (2007)

 

Night Words

accordion, bass clarinet

11' (2007)

 

Homenaje a Maurice Ohana

piano

12' (1997, 2006)

 

Piano Trio II

violin, piano, cello

17' (2007)

 

Al-Andalus

flute (doubling bass flute), clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), accordion, violin, cello, percussion

14' (2005)

 

Tango para dos

2 guitars

5' (2005)

 

Líneas

violin, 8-string guitar

5' (2005)

 

Movimientos I-IV

violin, piano

20' (2007)

 

Apuntes sin títulos I-IV

guitar

10' (2005)

 

Voces Críticas

guitar

16' (2004)

 

Afterjoyce I

flute, percussion, live electronics

5' (2004)

 

Omeros

4 guitars (amplified)

12' (1994, 2004)

 

Guitar Quintet

guitar, string quartet

18' (2003)

 

Canción y Tango

for guitar

8' (1995, 2003)

 

Canción y Tango

for flute, guitar

8' (1995, 2003)

 

Canción y Tango

for soprano saxophone, guitar

8' (1995, 2003)

 

Apuntes

piano

11' (2002)

 

Crow’s Vanity

amplified cello, tape

8' (2000)

 

Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra: Rajas, Sattva, Tamas

percussion solo, 2222 2210, timpani, 3 percussion, harp, piano, strings

23' (2000)

 

Crow

amplified flute (doubling piccolo), tape

13' (1999)

 

Crow

amplified tenor recorder, tape

13' (1999)

 

Piano Trio I: Quasi una fantasia

violin, cello, piano

13' (1998)

 

Quasi una fantasia

soprano saxophone, violin, piano

13' (1998)

 

Quasi una fantasia

clarinet, violin, piano

13' (1998)

 

Quasi una fantasia

piano

12' (1997, rev. 2006)

 

Parallaxis

soprano saxophone, alto saxophone

8' (1996)

 

Soneto del Amor Oscuro

oboe, percussion

15' (1995)

 

Song for Her (Canción para Ella)

flute, guitar

3' (1995)

 

Song for Her (Canción para Ella)

soprano saxophone, guitar

3' (1995)

 

Song for Her (Canción para Ella)

2 guitars

3' (1995)

 

Song for Her (Canción para Ella)

guitar

3' (1995)

 

In Memoriam

ssaa

4' (1995)

 

Tiento

soprano saxophone, piano

13' (1994)

 

Sonata for Tenor Recorder and Guitar

tenor recorder, guitar

13' (1994, 1997)

 

Sonata for Flute and Guitar

flute, guitar

13' (1994, 1997)

 

Sonata for Oboe and Guitar

oboe, guitar

13' (1994)

 

Two Mahon Songs

mezzo, cello

7' (1994, 1995)

 

Two Mahon Songs

high voice, cello

7' (1994, 1995)

 

Prakriti

alto saxophone

15' (1993, 1995)