Cameron Sinclair: The Fly
For oboe, percussion (marimba, 2 sandpaper blocks, 3 log drums, whip) and electronics ( digital delay, CD player, mixer, 3 mic). 8 mins.
Commissioned by New Noise. First performed by New Noise at Purcell Room, London in June 2003
This recording by New Noise on their CD Insomniac (NNL1 – released: June 30 2003) available from here.
Insects play an important role in human imagination and mythology.
Each culture has its own repertoire of insect legends and, although these are more prevalent in indigenous or traditional cultures than among industrialised societies, they often share themes that bridge the cultural and temporal divide. Everyone in the West knows the song about an old lady who swallowed a fly (perhaps she’ll die) but in Japan, twelve species of musical insects with evocative names such as Small Bell, Bamboo Grove, or Grass Lark are sold as good luck charms.
Usually however, the associations are negative ones as in Chile, where the praying mantis is known as the Devil’s Horse, or in Madagascar, where people are frightened by moths, believing them to be ghosts. My favourite is the legend that the Lantern Beetle’s sting will kill you unless you make love within the next 24 hours – a perfect excuse if one were needed – even though this insect has no trace of a stinger… Western literature has tended to play on people’s phobias about insects and exploited their association with spreading pestilence.
Sartre’s Les Mouches, a three-act play telling the same story as Sophocles’ Electra, introduces flies as a metaphor for ever-present decay and death, but it is Kafka’s tale The Metamorphosis, with its powerful use of the insect form as a metaphor for the alienation and loss of self that Gregor Samsa feels as he transforms into a fly, which resonates most strongly.
This piece follows the first realisation of that transformation, the electronics serving to amplify and distort the timbre of the oboe, like seeing a familiar object under a microscope.
Oboe part 11pp pdf
Percussion part 15pp pdf
Score 23pp pdf
Pre-recorded element: 2 x .mp3 files (3.5MB and 3.2MB)