The Botany of Desire

The Botany of Desire
  1. The Botany of Desire (piano / clarinet)0:00

  2. The Botany of Desire 1b (vibraphone / clarinet)0:00

[piano / clarinet version performed by the composer (piano) and Ariana Lamon-Anderson (clarinet)]
[vibraphone / clarinet version performed by Masako Kunimoto (vibraphone) and Ariana Lamon-Anderson]
instrumentation :  clarinet + piano (also clarinet + vibraphone)

duration :  8’20”
written for Ariana Lamon-Anderson
premiere :  05.07.08 Ariana Lamon-Anderson and the composer, Baltimore

        The title of this piece is the same as a title of a book by author and food researcher Michael Pollan, published in 2001. Of the many points Pollan makes in this book about humans’ relationship to the foods that we eat, the most significant is the idea that we have CO-evolved with certain crops (tulips, apples, etc). We have identified desirable characteristics in these species, who in turn have evolved to meet our needs, since we are their fastest and most efficient means of dissemination.
        This piece is the third in a set of pieces which I have titled “Ecosystems.” These pieces try to treat time and development in novel ways, and I often take inspiration from the course of natural events- how they unfold over time. In The Botany of Desire, the clarinet and piano co-evolve, drawing each other into different musical areas which support each other. They change together, cooperating to their mutual benefit. However, I wrote this piece with the food industry in mind (another of Pollan’s favored topics), which contorts this symbiotic relationship into something artificial. Just as humans persuade plants and animals to live existences which they are not built to live, the musicians in my piece are made to aim for sounds which their instruments are not built to support. The sounds get trapped, and the piece is carried by a constant meandering, yearning quality. The relationship which the piano and clarinet are developing is impossible to maintain.