Thursday, May 28, 2009


While free-reed instruments have enormous prestige in East Asian and Southeast Asian musics, they have often been a bit undervalued in the west, more associated with popular and pedagogical repertoire.  Occasionally, however, individual free-reed instruments have proven themselves to be valuable in art music as well -- just think of the harmonium in Rossini's Petite Messe Solemnelle, the accordion in Ives' Second Orchestral Set, Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts, and many pieces by Oliveros and Skempton, or the bandoneon in Mumma's Pontpoint, Tudor's Bandoneon! or Kagel's Tango Alemán.  (Not to mention the original orchestration of Die Dreigroschenoper or Oliveros' See-Saw (a duo for Accordion and Bandoneon with Possible Mynah Bird Obbligato).   The number of composers who have written for the harmonic is long (here's one list), so I'll only note concertos by Cowell and Hovhaness.  

There has, however, been too little written for the friendliest of the free-reeds, the melodica.  Composer Christian Wolff has often used it as his axe of choice whether playing his music with others and an early tape phasing piece of Steve Reich carries the name Melodica and uses a toy example as its sole sound source.  Now is the time to remedy this lack of repertoire.    

SO HERE'S A CALL FOR SCORES  for the first online anthology of new music for melodica.  Pieces may be for any solo or combination of melodicas (although solos and four-part ensembles seem to be the most popular).  If you use specific pitches, I suggest using the range f to e''', which will cover both the most popular Hohner and generic models  (the Thomann model, for example, widely used around these parts, has the range f to f''').  Please send scores in PDF format to me by the first of September, 2009.

For some sound examples of the Amsterdam-Based Melodica Quartet ((Jeremiah Runnels, Sander Breure, Graham Flett and Taylan Susam - founder), composer and melodicaist Taylan Susam has usefully posted these:

Christian Wolff: Exercise 1
Mark So - Collateral (4)

Also, see this previous item about new music melodica, here.



Jason Brogan said...

Great idea! To what e-mail address should scores be sent?

Daniel Wolf said...

Email scores to djwolf [at sign] snafu [dot] de

Taylan Susam said...

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