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Leo Geyer

composer | conductor

White on Black 2022

brass trio & drum kit

Commissioned for the London Sinfonietta as part of the Royal Over Seas Composition Prize and premiered on 27th November at Kings Place by the ensemble. 




alto flute

bass clarinet in Bb





Programme Note 

This miniature proposes an alternative approach to chromatic harmony by utilising a form of bitonality with the so-called “white notes” played above the “black”. Specifically, the first instrumental group, comprising vibraphone, violin and cello exclusively play F Lydian, which accounts for all the “white notes” (as seen on a piano). In contrast, all the “black notes”, considered here as Gb pentatonic, are played by the second group, comprising piano, alto flute and bass clarinet. Whilst this might appear to suggest a dissonant and chromatic composition with all 12 pitches simultaneously in play, this sketch seeks to propose both a new harmonic sound and one that is engaging and accessible. Unlike most other instances of bitonality which seeks a dissonant and often static harmonic sound, White on Black showcases how two tonalities can interact concurrently. By considering specific combinations and voicings of white and black notes, in tandem with an approach acknowledging the drama of pitch, an often complementary and shapeshifting harmonic language can be built.



This music is available to purchase for £30 excluding postage. Please get in touch. 

Perusal Score

Please note that this music is in copyright and it is illegal to copy or perform from the perusal score. 

Performance History 

27th Nov 2022 - London Sinfonietta, Kings Place

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