E.D. stands for Eric Dolphy (1928–1964), a highly individual jazz musician and composer known especially for playing an instrument unconventional to jazz: the bass clarinet. His playing is the first thing I hear when I think of the bass clarinet and so I decided to take my inspiration from my favorite album of his, Out to Lunch. His haunting tune, “Something Sweet, Something Tender,” had a particularly strong influence on me while writing these three pieces, musically and also otherwise: I stumbled upon the titles Moth, Geese, Twins by rearranging the letters of the phrase “Something Sweet.”
Moth depicts the last few moments of a moth’s life when fatally caught in a light fixture. I imagined an erratic fluttering of wings while the moth futilely longs for freedom. The last section (cantabile) is the moth’s last fantasy of flight before it finally burns out.
The musical material for Geese was loosely based on the sounds I heard of two different types of geese: the elegant and graceful Canada goose (e.g., mm. 1–3) and the cantankerous and loud Cape Barren goose (e.g. mm. 5–6). This piece is the imaginary scene of those two geese meeting: squabbling, nipping, and squawking at each other but ultimately coexisting peacefully.
Twins, the piece most intimately inspired by Dolphy’s “Something Sweet, Something Tender,” portrays two distinct, but still very related personalities embodied by the counterpoint between the two bass clarinets.
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2 bass clarinets