Helix Reflection

for flute and Bb clarinet

Jane Stanley

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for flute and Bb clarinet

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Composer Jane Stanley
Year of Composition 2013
Duration ca.6'
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-js1hr1


Helix Reflection is a concentrated meditation for flute and clarinet. An impetus for the piece was the image of a double helix. This has many associations for me, ranging from the structure of DNA to influences on contemporary architecture. The double helix is evoked musically through interweaving melodic activity between the flute and clarinet. The opportunity to compose for two instruments with similar properties (particularly the flute and clarinet’s range and capacity for playing sustained, legato melodies) led me to explore musical devices such as imitation and heterophony. Tension is also created by blending notes that are almost (but not quite) in tune with each other (for example, during the opening seconds of the piece). In this way I aimed to create composite effects where the boundaries between the sonic identities of each individual instrument are blurred.

The piece opens with the two instruments playing sustained notes separated by a small interval. Their sonorities are coloured with microtonal inflections, glissandi and variations in vibrato. During passages where there is relatively little melodic movement, other parameters such as dynamic intensity, rhythm, and timbre are mobilised. Over time this harmonic stasis gives way to greater melodic freedom, exploration of wider intervals and expanded range.

Helix Reflection was premiered by Ensemble Offspring on 18 October 2013 at the University of Glasgow Concert Hall