February 2004 Relache
fl., ob., alt. sax., bssn., perc., pi., vla., dbass
Strange Stone is commissioned by Relache as part of the national series of works from Meet The Composer Commissionning Music/USA. In Stange Stone, I set out to create a sound pallet that I have been envisioning for a while—a piece that in its own way, and in a more varied force level, represents the new music ensemble equivalent of the sound of the traditional Turkish instrument zurna. The zurna can be described as the grandfather of oboe, with a very nasal, complex and extremely loud sound (one can hardly hear the bass drum when they are played together). Through the instrumentation selected I wanted to create a super polyphonic zurna, with a huge range and added expressional variance. The timbral qualities of zurna have been imprinted on the work’s aggressive sections. I have synthesized the raw qualities (rhythm and pitch) of the Balkan and Turkish folk music that use this instrument in a no-holds-barred fashion that will jolt, slap and hopefully shock. In the contrasting soft section(s) I have created a warped version of Ottoman classical court music, which is very much like slow sufi or dervish music.