...merely circulating (1997)

for viola, piano, clarinet
By Douglas Boyce

...merely circulating was, in some sense, the germination of counter)induction, written at the request of Jessica Meyer for herself and her future husband Benjamin Fingland. Ever the interloper, the composer included a piano part of limited technical demands suited well to his style of piano performance, perhaps best described as Hobbesian. I have in the past described this work as a conversation of unequal partners, given the piano’s late arrival and early departure, but it is perhaps a more accurate reading of the piece is as a duet with interruptions. The piano consistently perturbs the elegant ululations of the clarinet and viola with interjections and accompaniments more akin to distant artillery than alberti basses, and even draws them into its pointilistic microbarbarism, but, in the end, these are interruptions and not transformations;—microtones abound, but only as inflections of 12-tone material; grace notes flutter about, but push the piece towards cadences; even the extended techniques of bow noise and percussive use of non percussion instruments simply serve to clarify the underlying rhetorical structure. The initial dialogue between clarinet and viola returns, none the worse for its digressions, to close the work as it began, a love song for awkward butterflies in a vestigial ternary form. The piece is dedicated to, and was premiered by Jessica Meyer and Benjamin Fingland.

Other works by Douglas Boyce:
“Once when father (George Ives) was asked: 'How can you stand it to hear old John Bell (who was the best stonemason in town) bellow off-key the way he does at camp-meetings?' his answer was: 'Old John is a supreme musician. Look into his face and hear the music of the ages. Don't pay too much attention to the sounds. If you do, you may miss the music. You won't get a heroic ride to Heaven on pretty little sounds!'”
--Charles Ives