What She Saw There

1987, 13' for bass clarinet and two marimbas

WHAT SHE SAW THERE was written in Indonesia in the fall of 1987. I was at that time listening to a lot of epic songs in languages I didn't understand, such as Mandarin, Swahili, and Balinese. This piece attempts to evoke a feeling of abstracted narrative, to tell a tale about an unspecified, incomprehensible place, in an equally slippery language. In the process, many semi-recognizable musical styles with which I am familiar get "retold". The original version was for cello and was commissioned and premiered by Mary Artmann.

WHAT SHE SAW THERE is an attempt to create a purely musical, non-linguistic narrative structure. I wrote it while living in Indonesia, at a time when my interest in world music combined with my incompetence at foreign languages to lead to a state of forced decontextualization. In other words, I was listening to a lot of songs in languages I didn't understand. This piece strives to tell a straightforward, epic tale in a straightforward, epic style. The storyteller, however, speaks a slippery language that is, for better or worse, unknown to the listener. This results in a feeling of abstracted narrative. The original version was for cello; the bass clarinet version, consequently, calls for the constant use of multiphonics and extended techniques.

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