Rothko's red : full orchestra
by Becky Llewellyn (2003)
The American painter Mark Rothko was known for painting canvases that each explored one colour. I have been lucky enough to see a few of these in my life and found them truly wondrous. In music, there could no better vehicle for evoking these same adjectives than the full orchestra.
Rothko's Red is an exploration of shifting perception and attention to pure sound colour. Rather than thinking of 'orchestral families', I am exploring 'pitch/tone families'. For instance, there is a continuous pedal note, passing between all the very low instruments - a deep vast rumble of the sea, the pedal note of red. The waves of colour move through various configurations, ever changing, like a kaleidoscope of shifting colour, yet always recognisable, always 'permanent.'
For the listeners, I hope this continuity throughout the piece will shift them into a deep sense of calm, then draw them into a journey deeper into the intensity of this coloured calmness. For the players, I hope they may enjoy expressing the 'redness' in their part, thereby creating beautiful subtleties of orchestral colour.
Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in B flat, bass clarinet in B flat, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in B flat, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, harp, percussion (3 players), strings.
Duration: 7 min.
Klangfarbenmelodie is a musical technique that involves splitting a musical line or melody between several instruments, rather than assigning it to just one instrument (or set of instruments), thereby adding color (timbre) and texture to the melodic line. The technique is sometimes compared to "pointillism", a neo-impressionist painting technique.
- Inspired by: Visual arts works
Performances of this work
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