waves

instrumentation :  amplified bass clarinet and marimba

2012
duration :  8'40"
commissioned by Transient Canvas (Matt Sharrock and Amy Advocat)
premiere :  9.27.12 by Transient Canvas | Somerville


        Waves, like many of my pieces, is a gradual transformation from one state to another. I often write music with agency, moving from one place to another with a sense of motivation. Waves, however, is a changing object.
        I took the title from a Japanese tanka poem by Fujiwara no Tadamichi, printed below. I wanted to convey the immensity of the ocean through amplification of the instruments, by which they seem closer to our ears. So much of the magic in the sounds made by marimba and bass clarinet happens at a very low volume; I love the constant sense that the scene could turn dramatic and violent, just like the ocean. In the end, the piece has not merged so much as it has scattered and fused, much like a waterfall might eventually become a still pool.

As I row over the plain
Of the sea and gaze
Into the distance, the waves
Merge with the bright sky

                  —Fujiwara no Tadamichi