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Some shade of blue

by Damien Ricketson (2011)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work
This sample is from the Violin with Live Electronics version of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Ensemble Offspring from the CD Between the keys

This sample is of the Duos: Vibraphone, other string version of this work

Versions of this work

Select from the following versions of this work to view more detailed information:

- Duos: Vibraphone, other string

- Violin with Live Electronics

Products featuring this work

Format Title Version AMC Library Price  


Between the keys / Ensemble Offspring.

Duos: Vibraphone, other string Available for loan $POA  


Some shade of blue : underchin tarhu & centaur vibraphone / Damien Ricketson.

Duos: Vibraphone, other string Available for loan $POA  


Some shade of blue : version for solo violin and electronics / Damien Ricketson.

Violin with Live Electronics Available for loan $POA  

Work Overview

Some Shade of Blue is a microtonal work based on a 19-notes-per-octave just intonation system proposed by Kraig Grady and Terumi Narushima. The metaphor of colour is associated with the evolving and growing palette of intervals heard as the work unfolds. The slow intense ascent of the melodic line shadows the violin solo in the final movement of the Quartet for the End of Time by Messiaen: a composer whose use of pitch is intrinsically tied up with colour ('synesthetically' so). The colour blue is often used to symbolise eternity, the end-point for Messiaen's quartet. The colour is also used to describe the subtle flattening of notes in Jazz and Blues music. Although I do not seek to directly evoke such musical traditions, the idea of the "blue note" - a note of heightened expressive potential lying between the cracks of the piano - is of poignant relevance.

Some Shade of Blue was originally scored for solo underchin tarhu: a newly designed instrument by Australian Peter Biffin. The violin-like instrument features a unique acoustic system that provides enhanced timbrel and dynamic diversity as well as a set of 7 sympathetic strings. The work also features a vibraphone that has been modified by composer and tuning theorist Kraig Grady to his own 7th-limit just intonation system called 'centaur tuning'. The work was composed for Ensemble Offspring's 'Partch's Bastards': an ongoing project exploring microtonality and instrument building.

Subtitled a 'plainsong for undachin tarhu (plus halo)', Some Shade of Blue is a slow song-like solo set over a resonant aura provided by electronic means. The work was originally written for a newly designed string- instrument by Peter Biffin, the undachin tarhu and a detuned vibraphone. It was later adapted for violin combined with electronics realised together with the young composer Marcus Whale.

Work Details

Year: 2011

Duration: 11 min.

Performances of this work

15 Dec 2018: at Absent Other (Bowen Terrace Studio). Featuring Lachlan O'Donnell.

14 Sep 2013: at Ensemble Offspring: Slow Flipping Harmonies (The Engine Room (Old Fire Station), Bendigo). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

12 Sep 2013: at Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music (The Capital, Capital Theatre).

11 Sep 2013: at Ensemble Offspring: Slow Flipping Harmonies (The Vanguard). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

11 Sep 13: The Vanguard, Sydney. Featuring James Cuddeford, Marcus Whale.

8 Jun 2013: at Between the Keys (The Street Theatre, Canberra). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

25 May 2013: at Between the Keys (Wollongong Art Gallery). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

23 May 2013: at Between the Keys (Armidale New England Regional Art Museum). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

21 May 2013: at Between the Keys (Riverside Theatres, Parramatta). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

4 Sep 2011: at PARTCH'S BASTARDS (Riverina Conservatorium of Music). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

2 Sep 2011: at PARTCH'S BASTARDS (Sydney Opera House, Utzon Room). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

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