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Three Sibilants

for E flat clarinet

Year:  2008   ·  Duration:  11m 30s

Year:  2008
Duration:  11m 30s

Composer:   Robbie Ellis

Films, Audio & Samples

Robbie Ellis: Three Sibilan...

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Robbie Ellis: Three Sibilan...

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Sample Score

Sample: Pages 4, 7, and 11-12

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In phonetics, a sibilant is a type of fricative consonant, or a consonant you can hold by constant airflow. Sibilants are made by placing the tongue towards the sharp end of the teeth and passing air through the small gap – in English, the sibilants we know are ‘s’, ‘z’, ‘sh’ and ‘zh’.

I’ve always felt that the gestures involved in enunciating a word are little different to the gestures involved in sounding a note or playing a phrase on a musical instrument, so why separate them in performance? I came up with three nonsense words starting with the letter ‘s’: “skornk” (pronouncing the ‘r’ quite strongly); “soh” (with the same vowel as in ‘sock’); and “stup” (with the same short vowel as in ‘took’).

The three short pieces are derived from these nonsense words. Skornk is quite brash and boisterous, bringing out a driving, zany quality in the Eb clarinet. Soh is restful, with long and slow-developing phrases that make for a gentle arc in the piece. Stup draws on the rhythms of funk, hip hop and rap, requiring the performer to multi-task as a clarinettist, vocalist and multi-limbed percussionist all at once.

Acknowledgement goes to everyone at the Nelson Composers Workshop, particularly Ross Harris and – of course – the ever willing and ever wonderful Anna McGregor.

Commissioned note

Commissioned by Anna McGregor

Anna McGregor

Dedication note

Dedicated to Anna McGregor

Contents note

I. Skornk
II. Soh
III. Stup

Performance history

27 Jul 2008: Emerging Artists