The Bohlen-Pierce Symposium
First symposium on the Bohlen-Pierce scale, Boston, March 7 – 9, 2010
Feria: Re: Stinky Tofu

Roger Feria: Re: Stinky Tofu (2010)

for Bohlen-Pierce clarinet and bass clarinet

  • fermentation…
  • deep fry!

The ‘stinky tofu’, one of the most recognizable street dishes in Taiwan, and one of my favourite childhood memories…

The production of such a delicacy requires one to first marinate fresh and firm tofu in a special brine (traditionally consisting of carefully proportioned rice water, aged amaranth/mustard green, bamboo shoots, Chinese herbs, shrimp or fish remains, and salt) at room temperature for a period of a few days up to a few months. There are many ways to prepare this delicacy: it can be eaten cold, stewed, smoked, steamed, grilled, but most commonly, as the Taiwanese prefer – fried!

This piece is my reaction to, and may I say, uncontrollable urge to want to have some fun with the strange yet familiar instrument of the BP clarinet. The idea of miniatures is an extension of my earlier piece, “Lines” for string trio, essentially a study of five short and concise microtonal miniatures. Simpler instrumentation and musical objects are employed not only as a metaphor to my inspiration – the humble tofu – but more importantly, to allow the uninterrupted interplay between the conventional tuning and the Bohlen-Pierce scale. This interplay of familiarity and peculiarity is achieved through the combination of the two clarinets and is realized through simple musical objects of long held notes (mvt. I), repeated short, oscillating notes (mvts. I & II) and short melodic motives (mvt. II), allowing the audience to ‘indulge’ in the delicious strangeness of the combination of these two distinct tunings.