Adjustable Wrench

Adjustable Wrench

For: 15 musicians

Year: 1987

Instrumentation: note: this composition can be performed with multiple string parts, and is suitable for a symphony orchestras.

Duration: 11'

First Performance:
24 November 1987
Huddersfield Festival
Lontano / Odaline de la Martinez

Recording: Adjustable Wrench can be found on the release, four

Press Quotes:
...the constructions are so tautly intricate that your ear can fasten upon different strands each time around, and discover a new perspective for the whole piece.
—Financial Times

In Adjustable Wrench, Michael Torke's eccentric movement and spare chordal development implied something quite the opposite, namely the relentless and ritual feel of jazz's wavelike choruses.
The New York Times

In Adjustable Wrench Torke has created a modern equivalent of a Mozart Divertimento, with all the skill and craftsmanship which that implies. Hi-Fi News and Record Reviews

...[it] is a work for chamber orchestra that consists largely of a vamp-like figure, not unlike the opening measures of a Sondheim song. Fanfare

...its fusion of rock, jazz and classical elements is confidently, often originally handled. Yorkshire Post

Program Note:
Each group of four instruments combines with a keyboard: four woodwinds are matched with a piano, four brass with a marimba, and four strings with a synthesizer. The texture is simple- melody and accompaniment. After a melody is introduced, it is then harmonized into four note chords. The chords become an accompaniment for a new melody, which in turn is harmonized to work with the accompaniment. The old chords drop out making the new chords become the new accompaniment for yet another new melody.

The keyboard instruments, around which each family of four instruments is grouped, simply double exactly what is being played; the piano, marimba, and synthesizer add no new material. Instead, they provide an extra envelope to the four-note chords as well as reinforce the attacks.

The music falls into the kind of four-bar phrases found in most popular music. Overall, the structure of the piece is arranged in four identifiable sections.

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