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Name of Work

Bermel, Derek (1967-)
Tied Shifts for flute, cello, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin

Tied Shifts


May 06, 2007

Mathieu Dufour, Flute
Larry Combs, Clarinet
Nathan Cole, Violin
Sophie Shao, Cello
James Giles, Piano
Michael Kozakis, Percussion

BERMEL-Tied Shifts

Composed in 2004

Derek Bermel comments on his Tied Shifts:

In August of 2001, 1 traveled to Plovdiv, Bulgaria to spend a month working with the great Bulgarian folk clarinetist Nikola Iliev. Fascinated by the melodies in odd meters executed at lightning speeds, I desired to gain firsthand knowledge of the Thracian folk style by learning to play the songs from a master musician. In transcribing the melodies, I was particularly struck by the practice of tying melodic notes over a barline, resulting in an obscuring of the meter. This process made it virtually impossible to guess the meter of a song simply by listening, as downbeats could conceivably be inaudible. Thus, though implied and felt, the odd metrics of a song could remain unstressed; the knowledge of the "base" meter would be for players and familiar listeners alone. To make matters even more confusing to an uninitiated ear, tied notes were often decorated with mordents—I use the term generally designated for inflection similar to the baroque ornamentation—leaving the impression that the meter was in a state of constant flux, shifting with each passing measure. Mordents occupy a central place in this piece, on both local and larger formal levels. The inflections generate their own material, and melodies are spawned from the contour of. the rising mordent itself. The shape of all the melodic material stems from an obsessively repetitive cell that rises to a mordent-inflected appoggiatura, then inches up farther, always clinging to its origin. I imagined this tension—manifest throughout the work—as a physical being determined to stretch itself, to explore the outer edges of its horizon, but continually finding itself snapped back, as if tethered by an invisible rubber band its place of origin.

Program Notes by Derek Bermel

Performance date: May 6, 2007

Performance Audio