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Sleep, In My Arms (sextets: string, woodwind)

by Jenna Cave (2019)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Paul Cutlan String Project from the CD Living

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Living / Paul Cutlan String Project.

Library shelf no. CD 3148 [Not for loan]

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Work Overview

In mid-2018, after the birth of my daughter, I was thrilled to be invited by Paul Cutlan to compose a work inspired by motherhood for his String Project. As a new mum I would rock my baby to sleep and experience a magical feeling of bliss as she drifted away. I set out to share these moments in the music.

Sleep time began with long "shhhing" sounds, which became a setting for Paul's improvised clarinet entry. Next I would start rocking my baby, patting her bum to the beat while repeating a "sh-sh-shhh" rhythm. As Paul's solo grows, the "sh-sh-shhh" pattern is spoken by violin one, while patting the beat. The bass and string quartet join the groove independently with both jazz and minimalist aesthetics. The music builds as the baby is lulled to sleep, the beat dissolving as she finally falls. Swelling, sustained low notes on the clarinet express the utter calm and serenity that came with sleep, lush chords in the strings growing out of this. The final section, fully notated, starts with a lullaby-like violin melody, developing into a ride on the waves of emotion and love I felt as a besotted mother with my baby asleep, in my arms.

Work Details

Year: 2019

Instrumentation: 1 Bb Clarinet, 2 violins (1st violin double on voice and body percussion), viola, cello, double bass.

Duration: 7 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Conceptually advanced, polyrhythms, independent string parts, artistic interpretation of group instructions in score

Dedication note: For Chloe

Commission note: Commissioned by Paul Cutlan for performance by Paul Cutlan String Project.

First performance: by Paul Cutlan String Project at Paul Cutlan String Project ‘Living’ Album Launch (Old 505 Theatre) on 3 Nov 2020

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
improvising chamber ensemble, cross-over chamber/jazz, lullaby, minimalism, impressionism, jazz


Performances of this work

7 Feb 2021: at Paul Cutlan String Project: Living (Riverside Theatres, Parramatta). Featuring Paul Cutlan String Project.

3 Nov 2020: at Paul Cutlan String Project ‘Living’ Album Launch (Old 505 Theatre). Featuring Paul Cutlan String Project.

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