Lois V Vierk

for three clarinets


In this short work, the three clarinets act together to produce what I call one "sound shape". The elements of the sound shapes in this piece include dynamic gissandi and held notes, crescendo/decrescendo patterns, and fast moving notes. Over the course of the work, sound shapes flow from the extreme high register down through the mid range to the low register. Material is presented in imitative passages. Because the instruments are of the same timbre, all melodic nuances are clearly audible.

This work was influenced by certain pieces of Gagaku, Japanese court music, which I was studying and performing at the time in ensembles led by Gagaku master and UCLA professor Suenobu Tõgi. In these particular pieces, several ryuteki flutes (my instrument) or several hickiriki double reeds play canons in free rhythm. A sound at once massive and transparent is produced.

As for the title of my composition, the intensity of the sound of three clarinets, especially playing loudly in the high register, reminds me of the unrelenting heat of the southern California desert. 


Recording info:

Recorded live, April 16, 1978, at a concert of the Independent Composers Association in their "Second Second Storey Series" at Larchmont Center, Los Angeles.

Clarinetists - Alan Solomon, Dave Ocker, Laurel Hall

For more information about this concert check out the excellent blog Mixed Meters by Dave Ocker:


The present work was originally the first movement of my composition Song for Three Clarinets, which went through yet another renaming, Desert Heat.  Finally I settled on using the first movement only, with the title Small Shadow in the Desert.


Click here to view the score