I was drawn to the word, winnow, first because of its similarity in look and sound to the word wind (from woodwinds) and then because of its ambiguity and multiple meanings. At one time, winnow could be the poetic image of blowing wind, and, at another, the more functional image of separating out key parts from a larger whole. These two meanings fit both the descriptive character of the piece, and its underlying compositional process respectively.
Winnow is somewhat a “Theme and Variations,” with the melodic and harmonic material being entirely derived from an eleven-tone series of notes (e.g., mm. 3–8 of the bassoon part). The notes were chosen from the combination of the ascending and descending forms of the A melodic minor scale. As the variations unfold, the series of notes becomes progressively more fragmented and, by the end, only certain key melodic segments remain.
Flute, Clarinet in B-flat, Bassoon