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The Singing Minotaur - Solo Trombone
The Singing Minotaur. What and Where.
Burrowing deep into the island of Hestur, one of the remote Faroe islands, is the world's largest sea cave, Klæmintsgjógv, or Claimant's Cave. And in there,with its multiple echo chambers, and the sound of the restless sea outside, a single trombone sounds utterly primitive, unearthly, as Dávur Juul Magnussen shows on his 2013 recording, Cesurae.
I'd long enjoyed the effect of playing in a very resonant space, the obvious opportunity there being that you can create chords by playing arpeggios and fading away to give then balance. But it was all just dabbling until I heard Dávur's CD.
From there things moved on quickly, and I present The Singing Minotaur, for solo trombone in a resonant acoustic. These are surprisingly common, how often do we find ourselves playing in a church? Backstage areas all over the world have seemingly endless echoey stairs leading to the depths, or large state rooms with plenty of reverb. Dávur himself says he practiced this piece in his 'boomy stairwell' at home. I haven't tried this piece in a swimming baths yet, but you get the idea.
That's the Where.
The What is something of a story, to be told as the performer wants. All
tempos are marked circa. The primitive aspect of the sound suggested the minotaur, the beast in the depths of his labyrinth. But also deep within this minotaur lies a longing, that wants to reach for the sun; he wants to sing. The rest of the story is in the music, tell it how you will. My only contribution here would be the moment of sweetness, of a glimpse of the light. At letter E the monster strives to find his major 3rd, but goes all around it and falls back. But then he reaches it, and from there soars with joy.
For practical purposes, the Where can obviously be anywhere, the story tells itself with or without reverb. It's just enhanced when you find a church, a stairwell, or even a piano with its lid open...
The first draft of The Singing Minotaur appeared like lightning out of a blue sky in front of me. I had hardly mentioned to Dan how I perform in large reverberant caves. He immediately understood, and returned to me this piece which is so perfectly crafted that I do wonder if me and Dan have a telepathic connection. Play this piece in a location which is capable of making music in the silences. Give it time and savour the space within it.
Dávur Juul Magnussen
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