Overtones (1985)
four B flat clarinets     11 mins: Grade 8+
Ebony Quartet commission, first London performance at the Purcell Room, 28 January 1986.
This virtuosic piece  is a single-movement work that exploits the contrast between the different registers of the clarinet and their associated timbres.
The basic material uses a scale derived from the clarinet’s characteristic overtones (or harmonic series), and is displayed at the opening of the work in the form of a toccata-like passage followed by a more relaxed section in which a solo line is echoed by the other clarinets.  These two groups of ideas are then subjected to a variety of developments and juxtapositions, culminating in a dissonant climax of note-clusters, followed by a shortened and varied repetition of the opening sections (but without the toccata-like characteristics) climbing up the overtone series and disintegrating into nothingness.
‘Clearly the result of a fiery imagination’ – Robert Matthew-Walker, Music and Musicians
`Musically substantial and technically involved’ – CASS magazine

Scrolling Score here

Article about ‘Overtones’ in ‘Winds’ magazine, Summer 1987

Recorded on CD by The Ebony Quartet : MERLIN MRFD 93100 

To buy: a pdf of the score and parts, all in one file, is available from Sheet Music Direct, or Sheet Music Plus

Audio extract: