top of page

Degrees of Separation

Premiered at Spectrum Project Space, May 2019 with Linsday Vickery on Bass Clarinet, Stuart James on Piano and Ryan Burge on laptop.

(link to live recording with thanks to Josten Myburgh)

[text score]

Degrees of Separation by Ryan Burge [2019]

For three performers (1) Bass Clarinet, (2) Piano with two contact mics, (3) laptop, stereo mic and loudspeakers.


The bass clarinet is amplified through a condenser mic. This signal is sent to a patch in Ableton Live, passes through a gate that triggers a backing track of sine waves. The sine waves are then played through a loudspeaker pointing directly into a piano. The piano is amplified through 2 contact mics placed on the frames in resonant areas. This signal is then routed back to the laptop. A stereo mic will record the sound of the room, which will also be routed back to the laptop.

The laptop will send the following to a stereo mix:

  • Clean Amplified signals

  • The pitch shifted loops

The piece will explore the tonal centres of E, F, F# each for 3 minutes, giving a total length of 9 minutes.

Bass Clarinet: The performer will play notes between 3-10 seconds long for the whole piece, resting in between for as long as required to be comfortable. Various techniques such as close interval dyads, spectral multiphonics (overblowing), quartertones, pitch bending may be used to explore the tonal centres of each section, and to this end, for each breath a note of the tonic will always be played, in any register. Dynamics may vary but should be audible when amplified.

The first note played will be a sustained and focused low E note for as long as possible.

Piano: Will play a chord every 15 – 30 seconds. The chords will relate to the harmonic series of each tonal centre being explored.

The left hand will remain below middle c and play any minor or major 3rd and fifth in any inversion or octave.

The right hand will stay above middle c and will play clusters of any notes except R-3-5

For eg… in the first 3 minutes Left hand Gb/G and B, Right hand anything except E-G/Gb-B

Pedal remains down for entire piece.

The Laptop: The laptop performer will be recording and looping the stereo mic signal and microtonally pitch these loops with a midi-controller. The laptop plays a backing track composed of sine tones that will oscillate between -/+25 cents of the tonic. It will only be heard when the bass clarinet is played. The sine tones will remain below middle c to maximise resonance in the piano.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
bottom of page