Fifteen Fingers of Doctor Wu, The
About this work:
THE FIFTEEN FINGERS OF DOCTOR WU (1987)
This work consists of a melody which is gradually transformed over many repetitions. Two processes occur simultaneously. First, the melody begins to transpose down an octave, one pitch at a time. The second process replaces every pitch with a high B, one at at time. The second process eventually wins out and the melody disappears altogether, except for its distinctive rhythmic structure, articulated as accents.
The work's title comes from a dream about a praying mantis using chopsticks. The title was spoken out loud to me in the dream, and it seemed to suit this piece on a purely intuitive level.
Though conceived from the start for oboe, other wind players have asked me about its suitability for their own instrument(s). I think it would work very well on soprano saxophone, but on flute or clarinet - forget about it. It might also be fun to hear it pushed way down there on bass saxophone, perhaps contrabassoon. You can inquire if you're interested, and I'll think about it.
Year composed: 1987
Ensemble type: Solo instrument, non-keyboard:Oboe
Instrumentation: 1 Oboe
Instrumentation notes: Composed for oboe solo, it also works very well on soprano saxophone.