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Spotted Jasper

bass clarinet, marimba, electronics (2001)

JD Parran, bass clarinet; Frank Cassara, marimba


bass clarinet
computer (running Max/MSP) or pre-recorded fixed media


Duration: 11 minutes
Commissioned by: Levine School of Music with additional support from the Harvestworks Digital Media Artist-In-Residence Program
Premiere: April 6, 2001
Levine School of Music, Washington, DC

program note

On the coffee table in my living room, there is a basket containing stones and crystals of all sorts. My favorites are the pieces of spotted jasper; each stone displays a different pair of colors arranged in a uniquely intricate pattern. One is gray and rose with a leopard pattern, another is black and tan and covered with tiny crosshatching. I often associate visual images with particular pieces of music, and it was the patterns and colors of these stones that entered my mind as I was working on this composition.

Constructed in two continuous sections, each deals with the same musical material—a repeating cycle of seven four-note chords—in a completely different way. The first section is, as the opening direction states, “caffeinated and edgy”, and the second section is very slow and atmospheric. The electronic part serves as an environment for the performers to play in and around. At first it stays behind the performers like a backdrop, and gradually moves to the forefront, occupying the same space as the players. Sound sources include freezing rain, birds, and bass clarinet samples.

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