Dichotic Sounds 4


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English horn

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Dichotic Sounds 4 for solo English horn is one of a series for members of a woodwind quintet: Dichotic Sounds 1 for alto flute, Dichotic Sounds 2 for French horn (the only one who does not ‘double,’) Dichotic Sounds 3 for solo bass clarinet, Dichotic Sounds 4 for English horn and Dichotic Sounds 5 for contrabassoon, as yet unwritten.

The title dichotic refers to an aspect of the pieces in the series, that of listening to, and following, two or more sounds at one time. The piece involves humming while playing, multiphonics, use of two bocals and even a French horn mouthpiece! The work plays with the listeners’ ability to follow separate, but synchronous, sound events. Dichotic Sounds 4 has three musico-dramatic expressive ideas, all of which are designed to fit various historical characteristics of the English horn. The first is a rhapsodic, lyrical idea, a wide sweeping gesture punctuated with sustained sounds that gradually involve multiphonics. This is the pastoral mode, the gentle shepherd. The second melodic idea is a sprightly idea, like a motive, a hornpipe dance. First heard alone, later accompanied with a drone, suggesting an ancient bagpipe. The third theme complex is dreamy or otherworldly. Marked pensive, it involves varied rates of vibrato, multiphonics, and the use of a French horn mouthpiece. It suggests the sound of an ancient ritualistic song, heard from under the sea. The work follows a ternary design, with A consisting of an interpenetration of the rhapsodic lyrical complex with the hornpipe motive, and B, the dreamy pensive complex. 

New edition from 1987 original score

Ensemble Type: 

solo instrumental (non-keyboard)
Internal Fields


English horn
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