african idyll for hike
This lyrical African ensemble piece with its unusual scoring of flute, percussion, 2 guitars, bass guitar and piano, was written in 2009, close to the end of Reddy’s life. It is in 12/16 meter and has a rhythmic buoyancy derived from Shona mbira music. He used the piece again as the opening and closing movements of a proposed mass for his former teacher, Anthony Walker who died in 2009, which Reddy was writing when he himself died, in January 2010. It is dedicated to his long-time friend and partner, Heike Asmuss, who is an amateur flautist, and the dance-like quality of the music also references Heike’s love of dancing. Shortly after Reddy died, Asmuss recorded her memories of how some of his works came about, and this is what she wrote about african idyll for hike (in a mixture of German and English):
‘Eines Tages im Herbst 2009 kam ich nach Hause und [One day in Autumn 2009 I came home and] Surendran said to me “I wrote you a piece.” And he played it to me and explained that it was for me because I loved ‘african’…(Africa? I can’t remember how he expressed it) – for me it expresses die ganze Sehnsucht nach der friedlichen, einfachen und [the whole longing for the peaceful, simple and] gentle african world – nicht im klischeesinn, sondern [not in a clichéd way but] in the essence of it.’
The piano ostinato figure in african idyll for hike is what one would find in a Zimbabwean mbira piece, and the percussion rhythm owes something to the rhythms that an accompanying hosho player might use. A hosho is a gourd rattle, and it is clear from an mp3 file of the piece that Reddy made in December 2009, that the percussion instrument he had in mind was a rattle. Over the mbira elements Reddy weaves a floating, syncopated, jazzy flute part while the two guitars provide harmonic filling. The piano part is a single line, mostly higher than the bass and counterpointing actively with an ostinato pattern in the bass, which provides the harmonic foundation.