Brian Ferneyhough – Time and Motion Study I (1971 – 77) for bass clarinet
Carl Rosman, bass clarinet
Janet Sinica, video
Hendrik Manook, sound design
Another trip down memory lane: Time and Motion Study I has accompanied me from the very beginnings of my connection with new music and in terms of my own performing path has been over time by far the most significant piece not actually written for me. I first encountered the score about thirty years ago on the shelves of the library of what was then the Victorian College of the Arts School of Music: I can still vaguely remember the vertigo that perusing it induced. Over the following couple of years I made occasional attempts at learning it. I thought at first that it might work the way it did with any other piece: set the metronome at a speed at which I could play it, and gradually crank it up. Of course, that didn’t work at all: even in the passages where I could find a starting speed that was anything faster than glacial, there was no way that gradual, well-behaved increments were going to bring me anywhere close to a reasonable performance tempo. Eventually I decided to launch myself at the first page and see what came out—and as it happens there’s a particular energy released by exactly that kind of leap into the unknown (from a base of careful slow-motion practice, of course), which proved addictive right from that very early stage.
I plucked up the courage to send Brian a cassette (a cassette!) of two of my early efforts, and in due course an appreciative letter made its way back; the following year (1994) I came to the Darmstadt Ferienkurse and worked on the piece with him directly. It has been a dear friend ever since, accompanying me to a wide range of locations and sharing an amusing selection of adventures and misadventures for which there’s no room here. Of course my repertoire has widened since then; of course I now have a collection of pieces written for me that go more deeply into the technical potential of the clarinet and draw more specifically on my own musical personality. But I can’t really imagine what that musical personality might have been like if I hadn’t had this piece as such a constant companion.
Carl Rosman, 2020