Faye-Ellen Silverman


Year: 1975

Duration (in minutes): 5'39;17'34;

Difficulty: High (professional)

Category: small chamber ensembles - 2 to 4 players, woodwind ensemble

Instruments: alto, alto flute, any female voice, any low voice, any voice, any woodwind, clarinet, flute

Publisher: Subito Music Corporation

Description: “Conversations” is a musical illustration of the different ways in which conversations occur. It is one of my few more literal programmatic works; one in which the literal idea is transformed into the music – an Ives influence. The first movement starts with both instruments speaking (playing) together but with a slight divergence of opinion – like two people basically in agreement, nodding yes. It is soft and with limited dialogue. The softness is influenced by personal acquaintance with Morty Feldman. The shape grows and dies dynamically. The instruments begin on the same pitch, then the alto flute bends its pitch. After this, both instruments bend their pitches (the alto flute bending upwards and the clarinet bending downwards). At this point the clarinet changes pitches. Then both instruments move.
The second movement illustrates two people not listening to each other. The music portrays this by the use of two different tempi. At first each makes a pretense – the instruments alternate – but each is already thinking of what to say next. Then the pretense is abandoned as both keep talking. The third movement is a balance between the two extremes of the first two movements. Each instrument fills out the other. The flute contains whistle tones – an eerie sound.

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