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The Garden of Forking Paths

This is a project about composing and performing the indeterminate spaces of the clarinet by inverting the standard approach to the instrument (arguably, this could be applied to any instrument). Instead of starting with notes or sounds and working out how to produce them, we start with the physical instrument and see what sonic results are more or less likely through exploration; especially when the starting point is off-the-beaten path or non-standard in some way. This might mean specifying some fingerings (arrangements of closed/open holes) to see what pitches, multiphonics, and timbres emerge from different ways of using the embouchure/mouth/breath/etc. What of this can be specified in advance of performance? how do we notate when the pitches and rhythms are more or less emergent (we can't specify in advance, the specifics emerge in the moment of performance)? How might composition be structured by thinking in terms of responding to the agency of the instrument, of order and disorder, the emergent and the fixed, of sounds that might be indeterminate in greater or lesser ways. This project foregrounds the physical materiality of the instrument as something that has inherent patterns of resonance, an agency of sorts, that when partnered with a responsive listening performer, allows for new ways to think both composition and performance.

This project sought to open up these questions, and to provide some responses that hopefully allow others to explore further. This website hosts a range of different materials for learning, composing, and performing, see specific pages below for suggestions of material that might suit your particular interests and level of experience. Or see the clickable site map.

Resources logo with score in background
RESOURCES: tutorials and example videos, writings, talks and workshops.

MUSIC: scores and audio for solo and duo pieces, a mix of studies and concert works.

BLOG: dive into the research as it happened.


Project Team

About the Project

For more details on the project, its inception and key ideas, please see the 'About' page here.



RNCM: Tywi Robert 'Slushball Earth'

[originally written in Feb/March 2021, but a scheduling error meant the post is only going up now] Garden of Forking Paths collaborations – Tywi John...

Natura Naturans II (Wigmore Hall - 12/10/22)

I'm very grateful to the wonderful Apartment House ensemble for requesting a follow-up of my clarinet concerto Natura Naturans for chamber forces. They play it at...

Listening With the Clarinet

See here for details of our workshop day on Listening with the Clarinet.

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