Pierre Boulez Dialogue de l’Ombre Double for flute/bass flute

Adapting, recording and releasing the flute/bass flute version of Boulez’ Dialogue de l’Ombre Double has been a ten year labor of love (and frustration). The mischievous flutist inside me listened to this clarinet piece and thought, why doesn’t Boulez write for flute this way? Not to disparage his wonderful works for flute, but his Dialogue has such contrasting characters who are so articulate and moving in ways that his flute characters are not.

In 2007 I received permission from Boulez to attempt a version. After completing the score and several performances, the version never received acknowledgement, but it received no prohibition, which I took as an OK to continue. Now the necessary permissions have been received for the recording, which I am proud to announce is available here:

Pierre Boulez, Dialogue de l’ombre double, version for flute and bass flute

The score is not available commercially. Please contact me if you are interested in taking a look at it. It has not been fully edited, there are some odd enharmonic spellings of notes due to transposition.

Some comments about the flute/bass flute version: I originally wanted to make a version for just the bass flute. While I think this may be technically possible, I was too frustrated by the instability of the intonation of the upper register. Maybe on today’s bass flutes, with narrower bores, this would be less of a problem. The bass flute has also less scope for dynamics than the clarinet. This is not surprising, clarinet making and performers have had generations to develop their art. Bass flute making and playing is still in its early generations – although Eva Kingma and Kotato are making wonderful headway. So I decided to switch from flute to bass flute between movements (although I attempted to do so in a way that is not monotonously predictable, I hope) in order to play in tune and to emphasize the changes of character.

I would like to take the opportunity here to thank Melvyn Poore, who recorded the initial, final, and the transitions, and performed the electronic parts in concert with me. He also made the recording which is now available. Thanks also to Hendrik Manook who did the final mastering. A big thank you to Mark Steinhäuser, who transcribed and transposed the score for me.



Preparation – again

For me there are still three levels to gain once you have practiced a piece.

First, you can read it through
Second, you can actually play it
Third, you can start to make music with it

Next week I will play the premiere of Rebecca Saunder’s Bite which is a 15+ minute piece for bass flute solo. If I am lucky, I will reach the third level. Watch this space, I would really like to write about it. I just hope I find time before the year is over.


Seasons, and a Practice Idea

Great for practice breaks

Great for practice breaks

I have been thinking about practicing freely and vacation time from the flute. In the past, I have put the flute down for long periods of time (8 weeks was my longest break, when I was juggling a big decision of where to settle down). However, despite my long vacation time this year I realized how much I enjoy vacation practice when the sun is warm and everyone is relaxed and enjoying themselves. I play a bit, go pick some raspberries, play some more, sit in the sun and read. It is a healthy rhythm that is denied to me under normal circumstances.

When the weather is cold or rainy (like most of the time where I live), I just want to be under a blanket curled up with a cup of tea. When temperatures climb over 20 Celsius (ca. 69 Fahrenheit), most of the people around me start complaining how warm it is, but that is when I come alive and want to actually accomplish something (maybe because I am a snake, according to the Chinese horoscope).

So I took breaks from the flute this summer, but only a few days at a time. Now I face the challenge of a new season with a dizzying amount of pieces to prepare. How can I stay free and relaxed? I took a very simple idea from traveling. When on the road, the simple thing to do is count your bags so you don’t leave them behind. Don’t worry about how big or what color, just count them. In flute practice, I will try to do this with my stress points, just count them. At the moment I have 3, so when I re-take the flute after a break or a breath, or when I stop a passage, I do a count. It is so much simpler than thinking: right shoulder-blade out, left shoulder down, lower back open. Just 1-2-3 and I am aligned again. So stress gets left behind, not good practice habits 🙂

Just for the my records and for those who give a rat’s, here are the pieces I will be performing between the 22nd of August and the 18th of November. (Not including December because I am not sure yet, but there will be concerts!)

Rebecca Saunders – Bite for bass flute (premiere)
Farzia Fallah – Poshte Hichestan (premiere for C flute)

Gordon Kampe – Arien/Zitronen
Tom Johnson – Self Portrait
G. Ligeti – Aventures/Nouvelles Aventures
Frank Zappa – Black Page and other works
Edgar Varese – Ionisation (Castanets and Guiro)
Luciano Berio – Points on a Curve to Find
Steve Reich – Radio Rewrite
Harry Partch – Delusion of the Fury
Hanspeter Kyburz – Danse Aveugle
Toshio Hosokawa – Slow Dance
Michael Finnessy – MuFa
John Cage – 16 Dances
Liza Lim – Tree of Codes (opera)
Claudia Molitor – Walking with Partch
Harry Partch – Li Po “Intruder’ (maybe!)
Michael Wertmüller – antagonisme controle
G. Kurtag – Bagatellen
Enno Poppe – Stoff