Dulcian Patterns

(2007) 16 min.

Bassoon and large chamber ensemble (1110 1010 pno 1 pc 11111)


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The initial inspiration for Dulcian Patterns can be found in the sound colours of the bassoon, an instrument I spent many, many hours practicing and rehearsing in my performance career before my compositional interests prevented me from having time to do so. The dulcian was the Renaissance predecessor to the bassoon. Until now, I have found it impossible to write for the bassoon in a solo context, as every musical imagining seemed haunted by others' works that I knew so intimately. It is only recently that I have begun to feel that I might have enough distance from this material to pursue my own compositional ideas featuring this instrument and its gorgeous timbral world.

The three movements (slow, slower, fast) of this work are not a bassoon concerto, per se, but they do frequently feature the varied ranges and timbres of the bassoon. A spatial arrangement of the players is meant to enrich the colour world of the piece. In recent works I have been investigating this kind of "acoustic Dolby 5.1" surround sound arrangement - designed with most of the acoustic "information" coming from the stage, while off-stage performers support it by immersing the audience in sound. In this case this spatial arrangement also harkens back to the days of the Renaissance when the dulcian was in common use and composers such as Giovanni Gabrielli experimented with similarity.

Commissioned by Aventa through the assistance of the Canada Council.

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