First Duo

for flute and Marimba (1981)

Duration: ca 4 minutes

First Duo is scored for flute and marimba. In two of my other works, New Hockets (1986) (for flute and piano), and New Hockets II (1992) (for clarinet, marimba, and piano), I had explored the ancient musical technique of hocket; the dividing of a single melodic line into two or more separate lines. While the New Hockets pieces referred directly to medieval musical material and practices, First Duo and its companion piece, Second Duo (1993) (for clarinet and piano), take a more lighthearted and contemporary approach to this idea. At the time of the composition of First Duo, I also remember wanting to try to write music that was both fast and very rhythmic, but not in the repetitive sense of much ‘minimalist’ music. It seemed to me that, at the time, this was a somewhat rare quality in contemporary music. While writing this work, I also remember hearing this music as either the soundtrack for a hyper-kinetic cartoon, or as some kind of strange, angular, Latin dance music! In the First Duo, the two instruments explore various permutations of the musical material, in a texture of asymmetrical, dance-like rhythms. This kind of ‘continuous variations’, which, in a way, looks at the same material from many different directions, is a common feature of many of my pieces since the early 1980s. In First Duo, sections of the piece with this kind of texture contrast with other short sections, where the instruments are fused together in rhythmic unison, highlighting the similarities in the sound of the two instruments. Although very brief, First Duo presents certain challenges for the performers, such as rhythmic precision and feel, and a great accuracy in ensemble performance.

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First Duo.pdf