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Finding Traces
for clarinet and piano
(2003)

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The title for this composition came before any of its music was written. Chin-Jun Lin, who requested the piece, was hoping that I would incorporate clarinet multiphonics into the score. So while fulfilling his request, I came up with a plan in which short melodic fragments, mixed with textures of quiet multiphonics, would begin the music. The melodic fragments, or 'traces', would then be 'found' and developed into a complete musical form. Eventually, the piece would culminate with strong melodic statements created from the original tentative traces, while multiphonics would return as loud and obnoxious comments and exclamations.

The next logical step, for me, was to contemplate the dramatic potential of my otherwise intellectually conceived plan. It seemed obvious that this form, based on the idea of a discovery that leads to conflict, can easily represent the narrative of a detective story. So such a story became the central image that guided me as I composed this music. The story unfolds as follows: The opening scene is slow and empty, but there are mysterious traces of the truth that is to be revealed later. Eventually, the culprit is found and the music shifts from the tentativeness of searching to the energy and drama of a chase. Finally, the culprit seems to be apprehended as conflict ensues and loud melodic confessions reveal his identity and the scope of his deeds.

(performance duration ca. 7:45 - 8:00)

[Note: This score was revised in 2014. For ease of playing, some multiphonic fingerings were changed and ossia passages (allowing players to omit certain multiphonics) were added. Special thanks goes to the clarinetist Yi-Wen Wang for her help while making these changes.]