Passages
for solo clarinet (2005)

The initial idea for Passages came to me while sitting in Charles de Gaulle Airport. I spontaneously conceived of the idea of an extremely quiet, slow-moving clarinet melody, gradually arising out of the lowest depths of the instrument in quarter-tones. The piece more or less came in a sudden flash, but it took several months to figure out how to write it down, especially from a rhythmic point of view. About half of the piece was composed in Lund, Sweden; most of the rest was written in a tiny chambre de bonne in Paris; and, following a lengthy period of difficulty during which I was exclusively preoccupied with writing out page after page of rhythmic sketches, I remember writing the last page rather quickly in a café on the Avenue de l'Opéra.

My expressive aim was to create an extremely supple, liquid music, of very fine grain, exploiting the registral tensions peculiar to the clarinet and making extensive use of microintervals. I wanted to write a piece in which musical time would be in permanent flux, seemingly stretched and pulled in many directions at once, yet grounded by a strong sense of direction.

Passages is dedicated to Allain Gaussin.