Red : for descant (soprano) recorder
by Michael Barkl (1996)
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Red is a short composition for descant recorder written at the request of Ian Shanahan. Ian wanted a short solo piece suitable for performing at workshops and suggested that, since he already had a number of works for the larger recorders, I may be interested in writing for the smaller descant.
The descant recorder immediately brought to mind images of reluctant school children and my own dismal efforts in playing the instrument. But, given that in Ian's hands the recorder can do just about anything, I set myself the enjoyable task of deciding exactly what I would like to hear from the descant recorder.
I had never written for the recorder before and I soon realised why. I did not want to write folky tunes despite the fact that they sit so well and sound good on the descant recorder. I did not wish to write multiphonics and the new sounds available on the instrument despite the fact that Ian himself has extended and defined the resources of the recorder in his research. Nor did I want to hear music which reminded me of performance traditions and practices such as the shakuhachi music of Japan.
I simply wanted to hear Ian play music which I try to imagine. What I have written for Ian is a set of three brief movements, each 12 bars long, which are based on the blues. The three movements are in the order fast-slow-fast. The first is in 12/8, the second is in 3/8 and used pitch bending, and the third is again in 12/8, but with each pulse divided into three.
Instrumentation: Descant (soprano) recorder.
Duration: 5 min.
Contents note: In three movements.
Written for: Ian Shanahan
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