Duet – Force Studies

  flute and viola (or violin and cello)
Duration:                  9 minutes
Year:                          2011


Flute and Viola
Violin and Cello

Program Notes

    Force Studies was written for the UBC Contemporary  flute and viola duet in British Columbia.  The idea to write a series of 5 studies or duets sprang from listening to the virtuosic piano studies of Bolcom, Ligeti, and Chopin.  As a pianist by trade, I wanted to transfer this to a different combination of instruments and see what would or would not work for the ensemble.  The result is a terrifyingly tantalizing set of studies that assimilate popular and contemporary music and showcase the musicianship of the most virtuosic of performers.

  • Presto e moto Perpetuo

Each duet is based on a conceptual idea which governs the structure of the work.  In a sense, each study can be seen as compositional etudes towards solving inherent problems in a flute and viola duet.  Since the Viola occupies an alto range, it is rarely paired with a flute as it is not as effective in covering the bass in a duet setting.  Consequently, these duets often do without a strong bass element.  In the first movement, the flute and viola play off each other in an imitative cannon of sorts.  Described by listeners as “the bumblebee etude”, the instruments try to weave an independent chromatic line with each other while gradually building to a stuttering climax.

  • Allegro Marcato

The theme inherent in “Force Studies” Is the idea of exerting physical force.  In part, these studies recognize the physical nature of sound and the force it can exert on individuals, both physically and emotionally.  The second study plays on accents and octave displacement techniques, and requires quick string changes on the viola.

  • Cantabile con Rubato

The 3rd study brings some relief to the physically exerting studies as the instruments play on the idea of waves of sound.  The alternating 3/4 , 7/16, and 11/16 time pushes the music slowly forward, while the flute and viola play fifths in unison.  It is reminiscent of the barcarolle.

  • Con Forza

A compositional study on registral space and attack density.

  • Presto: Rock and Roll

Like the last movement of a symphony, the 5th study in the set is titled “Presto: Rock and Roll”, and recapitulates the elements found in the 1st study, with an added twist.  A well known pop quotation is included.

Performance History

  • Mar 10, 2012, Roderick Seed (fl.) & Newsha Kalaj (vla.)
    Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, Vancouver, BC
  • Mar 25, 2012. Roderick Seed (fl.) & Marcus Takizawa (vla.)
    The Western Front, Vancouver, BC
  • Mar 26, 2012, Roderick Seed (fl.) & Newsha Kalaj (vla.)
    Roy Barnett Hall, UBC, Vancouver, BC
  • Apr 28, 2012, Land’s End Ensemble
    University of Calgary Rozsa Center, Calgary, AB
  • Jun 16, 2016, Sophie Dupuis (vln.) & Anima Isabelle Holloway (vlc.)
    Centre des Arts d’Edmunston, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Jun 17, 2016, Sophie Dupuis (vln.) & Anima Isabelle Holloway (vlc.)
    The Music Room, Halifax, NS

Score and Parts

Full Score and Parts (PDF): $29.99 CAD
(Click link to purchase online)

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