New CD includes work by Music Staff Member
George Nicholson’s piece for bass clarinet and piano, Darkness Visible, is featured on the new CD Timeless Shades released in March by SCAW (Sarah Watts and Antony Clare). Included are a number of works specially composed for them, representing a good cross-section of the music being written today in Britain for bass clarinet.
George Nicholson – Head of Composition in the Department of Music – specifically composed the work for the CD, which received its premiere in November following the recording sessions. Its origins lie in the extensive and groundbreaking research carried out by Sarah Watts at Keele University into the production of multiphonic sounds on the bass clarinet. These are multiple or harmonic sonorities produced by a combination of unusual fingerings and adapted embouchure, and they range in quality from the raucous to the ethereal – a richly expressive resource. Although their existence has been known for some time, the sonorities have never been comprehensively analysed or mapped. It is Sarah Watts’s ultimate aim to produce a definitive lexicon of multiphonic fingerings for practical use by players. George Nicholson’s Darkness Visible is one of the earliest examples of a piece of new music to draw on this significant research: in it he exploits the darkest sonorities of both the bass clarinet and the piano in relation to brighter sounds that gradually emerge in the course of its nine minute duration through the appearance of multiphonics and harmonics. The harmonic language of the piece is, to a large extent, determined by the exact nature of the bass clarinet multiphonics.
Following Darkness Visible George Nicholson has gone on to write a series of eight bass clarinet studies for Sarah Watts (Soundings) lasting nineteen minutes in total, in which he further develops and exploits his use of multiphonics.
The CD Timeless Shades is available for purchase or download from Cuillin Sound.