Shadow Puppets

for Flute and Alto Saxophone
(2016)

Commissioned by Kaitlyn and Richard Laprise

Shadow Puppets was written in 2016 for Kaitlyn and Richard Laprise, two dear

friends who premiered the piece in Ithaca, NY in October of that same year. From the

very inception of the work, I wanted to consider all of the different ways in which I could translate the visual phenomena of shadows into the aural world of sound. At the time, I

was very interested in extended technique, specifically on woodwind instruments, and

flute and saxophone offered a variety of colors that I was inspired to explore.


The opening gestures of the piece are so quiet that they are nearly imperceptible,

marked as “ghosted notes” and “subtone” in the flute and saxophone parts respectively.

The two instruments gradually reveal themselves, materializing from their almost

invisible noises into audible notes and rhythms before the very eyes (and ears) of the

listener. I also sought to invert the common formal “Development” section by taking

these motives and stripping them of their musical identities, reducing them back to

strictly noise and movement in the exact middle of the piece. This choice was inspired

by our perception of shadows being a negative projection of that which is blocking the

light.

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