B contained

For solo clarinet and digital fixed sound, 2000.

Composer: Katharine Norman. Performer: Jonathan Cooper.

confined … enclosed … implied … revealed

[B] contained was commissioned by Jane O’Leary/Concorde for Paul Roe to play at the Galway Arts Festival. I wrote this piece very much with Paul in mind, and his particular ability to explore the more experimental timbres contained within the clarinet. The first performance was in the context of a contemporary art exhibition on the theme of ‘containers’, and the pieces were played in the midst of the exhibition with the audience around.

Listening to music offers, among so many things, a refuge in which to be contained. Here, the digital sound provides a sonic container for the live performer. All the electronic material in this piece was created from an initial recording of the note ‘b’, played on clarinet. This note, less than a second long, is looped and played continuously throughout, though sometimes the original is almost inaudible, masked by its various incarnations and developments. The player doesn’t actually get to play a ‘b’ until the final section of the piece. Instead, the clarinet line gradually incorporates pitches to either side of this elusive goal, which it surrounds or ‘contains’ and – at the same time – strives to reach.

A thank you to Ross Bencina – this was my first piece using his very nice software, Audiomulch.