for prepared and amplified contrabassoon
With a desire to personalise my application of sound, blow is a movement away from textbook extended techniques into self-led sonic exploration of an object, in this case the contrabassoon. The reed is detached, rendering the instrument a poor facilitator of pitch, and therefore it is treated rather as a filter for actions created by the facial muscles, breath and fingers. Water placed inside the instrument provides a substance which when breathed upon, bubbles inside the large resonating body, with fingerings determining the airflow and therefore directness of relationship between breath and water. Foil seals the bell to keep this activity contained within the resonating chamber, adding rustling sounds and metallic responses into the mixture. Close-up amplification then liberates and transforms this hardly audible sound- world, as if providing audience members with microscopes and the privilege of experiencing sounds that are otherwise unheard. Multiple speakers, subwoofers and almost pitch-blackness then make for an immersive listening experience.
In retrospect, perhaps the structure is influenced by the solo flute music of Salvatore Sciarrino, in which conversations of a few contrasting elements interrupt each other – in this case long fluid gestures interrupted by violent percussive moments.
Premiered by Edoardo Casali as part of the RNCM's Kaija Saariaho festival in October 2018. Sound engineering - Sean Rogan.