The Uzunoski Suite
for Bb clarinet, piano and percussion (2009)
duration: 25′ 00′
II ‘Kulturen Razgovor’
The ‘Uzunoski Suite’ (2009) was inspired by portraits from the 2003 collection ‘Macedonian Art in Sydney by Portraits’ by Sydney based Macedonian photographer Ilia Uzunoski. The portraits feature Macedonian artists from the Sydney Macedonian community and their instruments. The images were read as a thriller drama narrative associated with violence, seduction, surprise and power from which I made musical responses. During my attempts at reading the images in this imaginative thriller narrative, I discovered that the thriller was embedded in the subject poses and not in the actual narrative. Instead of focusing on developing the narrative I made a decision to creatively interpret the concept of thriller through the facial expressions of the subjects and the textural nuances. For example the pianist portrait with its petrified profile, suggested grim sensations supported with the luminosity of the monochrome design. The image of the accordionist suggested a sense of seriousness combined with artificiality and ambiguity of light and dark textures. The bagpiper emanated a blend of comic and serious overtones with a slight sense of alertness and contrast of lighting. The overall tone that was stamped in my reading was of morose and sinister qualities embedded with cynicism and imminent tension. This was the point of departure for the development of my sonic ideas of avant-garde techniques.
I Samost (2009) for Bb clarinet
‘Samost’ blends characteristics of Macedonian folk music such as irregular melodies with additive meters and 20th century avant-garde music techniques on clarinet. In this piece my aim was to explore the timbral character of the clarinet through the use of clarinet multiphonics, air tones, key clicks, highest possible pitch notes and graphic notation. My intention was to recreate the timbral characteristics of the Macedonian gajda (bagpipe) on the clarinet and generate sonic tension through a fusion of devices that evoke a Macedonian folk sound immersed within a Western paradigm.
II Kulturen Razgovor (2009) for Bb clarinet and piano
‘Kulturen Razgovor’ draws on irregular Macedonian folk music melodies, tempo rubato, additive meters and half-diminished sevenths. This piece also explores extended playing techniques on piano and clarinet. The lowest three piano strings A, B and C, are prepared using materials such as a rubber eraser and a small metal bolt, while the other strings are brushed and plucked with the fingers. The clarinet utilises multiphonics, subtones, keyhole sounds, highest possible pitch, and rapid tonguing. The overall dynamic character can be summarised as an exploration of unconventional playing techniques and dissonant chords juxtaposed with frenetic Macedonian dance rhythms that resonate with the images traits of seriousness, the comic, alertness and cynical. The aim of this piece was to push myself to explore and develop my compositional techniques and the boundaries of the traditional Macedonian folk music style.
III Tmurnost (2009) for piano and marimba
‘Tmurnost’ was influenced by the pianist image. The marimba was implemented because it gave me an opportunity to write for Ensemble Offspring. The sonic tension in this piece is created through bowed marimba and low piano tones. The suppressed timbre of bowed marimba creatively complements the subdued traits in the image such as the grim monochrome design and contrast of light/dark textures. This bowed technique on marimba is something that I draw from the Macedonian Ezgija style which is a specific type of village instrumental music that consists of a pair of kavali (Macedonian wooden flutes). The first kaval carries the melody while the second kaval provides a consistent drone that is dependent on the melodic development. The slow and low bowing on the marimba acts as a drone that undergirds the lyrical melody and evokes the Ezgija style in ‘Tmurnost.’
IV Pomegju Istok I Zapad (2009) for Bb clarinet, piano, marimba, tambourine, and bongos.
In ‘Pomegju Istok i Zapad’ I explored techniques from Macedonian traditional Calgadzi (Turkish oriental ensembles that performed urban instrumental music in the second half of the nineteenth century using melody, accompaniment and percussion for a rhythmic basis) music in juxtaposition with film score devices from the late film music composer Bernard Herrmann. I implemented Turkish modes known as ‘makams,’ and instrument techniques associated with the Macedonian ‘gajda’ (Macedonian bagpipes) which were expressed on clarinet, and asymmetric time signatures with additive groupings. The Herrmann devices I juxtapose in my music include minor-major sevenths with graphic notation that of limited improvisational squares.
The purpose of this composition through the use of diverse techniques was to explore and create a distinctive sound that works with Calgadzi qualities and Herrmann harmonies in blending Western and Macedonian instrumentation in an attempt to emulate a type of modern day cross-cultural Macedonian-Australian Calgadzi ensemble.