BIZZARIE DI FIGURE
instrumentation: flute (piccolo), oboe, clarinet (bass clarinet), bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, percussion (2), piano, 4 violins, 2 violas, 2 celli, bass.
duration: 10 minutes
commissioned by the SoundSCAPE Festival premiered July 12, 2016 by the SoundSCAPE Sinfonietta; Maccagno, Italy.
Bizzarie Di Figure is inspired by two sets of engravings by Giovanni Battista Bracelli (1616-1649), a Florentine engraver and painter. One collection, Bizzarie di Varie Figure, consists of a larger number of humanoid figures composed of various inanimate objects, creating an uncanny world of the human-machine hybrids. My work is a kind of musical transcription of these figures, composed of a collection of “bizarre” melodies, untempered harmonies, and mechanistic rhythms and pulses. Bracelli himself seemed to have a keen interest in music, having produced Figure Con Instrumenti Musicali E Boscareccian, an engraved collection of more conventional human figures making music. One image was particularly striking, that of two musicians playing the sackbut and serpent (ancestors of the trombone and oboe, respectively). The sackbut in the engraving inspired the central portion of the work, an extended trombone solo that synthesizes the two collections in both its instrumentation and its “bizarre” approach to melody and harmony.