Atman is a composition for bass clarinet, amplified breath and 4 piano strings. The bass clarinet as well as the piano use only their 4 lowest tones. The breathing of the clarinet player is the ‘cause’ of the piece. It is amplified by means of a microphone attached to a stethoscope. Inhalation and exhalation become audible musical materials and are therefore rhythmically noted down in a precise manner. The breathing can become a tone or vice versa. The pianist plays with one hand on the four lowest keys of the keyboard and with the other hand on their respective strings. The latter hand damps the strings, makes them sound, strikes them or touches the vibrating string so that it produces an overtone. The clarinet also plays overtones of the four lowest tones. The clarinet and the piano form one instrument, in the sense that there is no polyphony or dialogue between the two instruments. The performers are bound by each other’s actions in a radical manner.
live recording with a camera focus on the piano strings:
shaky footage from the concert on my doctoral defense (Leiden, 2011). With Benjamin Dieltjens (bass clarinet) and Frederik Croene (piano):