The Bohlen-Pierce Symposium
First symposium on the Bohlen-Pierce scale, Boston, March 7 – 9, 2010
Lemke: Pas de deux

Sascha Lino Lemke: Pas de deux (2008)

“Pas de deux” combines the classical clarinet in B flat with a so called Bohlen-Pierce clarinet. This second instrument is tuned to a scale of equidistant steps mesuring approximately 146 cents -almost the same size as a neutral second (inbetween a minor and a major second).  For the composition of “Pas de deux” I decided to “abuse” the newly built instrument, which was constructed to be able to play many intervals in fairly just intonation:  Instead of using these pure intervals as the starting point, I combined the scales of the two differently tuned instruments; the ordinary chromatic scale and the Bohlen-Pierce-Scale, often using them for two very simple, simultanously descending lines.  As the steps of the Bohlen-Pierce-Scale are slightly larger than the chromatic scale, the Bohlen Pierce Clarinet will descend faster than the traditional Clarinet.  To the resulting intervals I then added shadows of difference and summation tones, giving birth to a very particular world of microtonal harmony.

Apart from this concept, I also make use of the possibility of combining the pitches of both instruments, which only slightly differ from one another, in order to produce beatings.  Then, of course, there are a few moments where the pure overtone chords (which the Bohlen-Pierce clarinet was actually built for) reveal themselves. These chords mostly appear taking the form fast arpeggios unplayable on normal clarinets.
The title refers, on the one hand, to the idea of a duo of two very different instruments. On the other hand, I imagined some sort of shadow dance etude without any “music”, where no dancer is seen, but the sound of dancing feet and the dancers’ breathing can be heard.

Sascha Lino Lemke studied composition, electronic music and music theory in Hamburg, Lüneburg and Paris. He has been awarded several prizes such as the Kranichsteiner Prize in Darmstadt. His works have been performed by many soloists and ensembles all around the world.