Set in Motion is based on the opposition of two ideas. The first idea, which aims to explore the innate character of the cello, begins at the very opening of the piece and continues to unfold over the course of the first section. This material is expressive, wide ranging, and incorporates the open strings of the cello as much as possible to let the natural sound of the instrument through. However, this is soon interrupted by another, conflicting, idea. This second idea is constructed as a series of ‘developing repetitions’ which are set in motion at the outset and, although always encompassing the same time span, build within this upon each repetition.
In contrast to the first idea, the repetitive material is very fixed in terms of pitch and range, and the use of dynamics is very ordered. It also differs in sound; the opening repetitions in particular make use of pizzicato, sul ponticello (playing near the bridge) and playing without the use of vibrato. The effect of this makes the repetitive material contrast even more with the natural sound world of the first idea.
Another feature of the piece is the compression of material. In 2010, I wrote a solo violin piece which focused on the expansion of material and this cello piece aims to achieve the opposite to a certain extent. As the piece progresses, the first idea is forced into compression by the gradually dominating repetitive material. Eventually, the first idea dies away entirely and the repetitive material is left to conclude the piece.