SUBTONE for clarinet and fixed media      

Subtone is a harmonic exploration of one pitch.  As the work progresses, the clarinet soloist improvises through harmonic territory constructed from the lattice of vibrational relationships within one pitch.  Technology has allowed composers to rediscover and exploit this inner harmony in new and exciting ways.   However, technology is only a tool and not an end in itself.  At the center of art is what it means to be human.  “We cannot contract out of humanity”.

8 minutes

The Tactus New Music Ensemble at Symphony Space in New York City featuring Schyler Fung, clarinet,  Jessica Schmitz, piccolo, and Kathleen Tagg, speaking voice.

Subtone by John Frantzen followed and this featured the recorded sounds of what seemed to be a subway line, complete with the roar of heavy machinery, flowing water and the squeal of brakes. This created a sense of powerful movement against which Brian Walsh’s clarinet wove tones in and out of the electronic tracks – the clarinet phrases seemed to be making a commentary on the background rumble. Gradually a voice emerged from the jumble of industrial sounds, sounding chillingly like a train announcement: “We cannot contract out of humanity” – and the piece ended. Subtone is a fervent editorial against the hyper-mechanization of our daily life.
— Paul Muller, Sequenza 21