Composer’s Name: Mischa Salkind-Pearl
Title of Piece: The Botany of Desire (2008)
Number of Percussion Players: 1
Total Number of Players: 2
Instrumentation: clarinet, vibraphone (or piano)
Approximate length: 8 min.
“The title of this piece is the same as a title of a book by author and food researcher Michael Pollan, published in 2001. Of the many points Pollan makes in this book about humans’ relationship to the foods that we eat, the most significant is the idea that we have CO-evolved with certain crops (tulips, apples, etc). We have identified desirable characteristics in these species, who in turn have evolved to meet our needs, since we are their fastest and most efficient means of dissemination.
This piece is the third in a set of pieces that I have titled “Ecosystems.” These pieces try to treat time and development in novel ways, and I often take inspiration from the course of natural events- how they unfold over time. In The Botany of Desire, the clarinet and vibraphone co-evolve, drawing each other into different musical areas that support each other. They change together, cooperating to their mutual benefit. However, I wrote this piece with the food industry in mind (another of Pollan’s favored topics), which tends to contort this symbiotic relationship into something artificial. Just as humans persuade plants and animals to live existences that they are not built to live, the musicians in my piece are made to aim for sounds that their instruments are not built to support. The sounds get trapped, and the piece is carried by a constant meandering, yearning quality. The relationship which the vibraphone and clarinet are developing is impossible to maintain.”
– Mischa Salkind-Pearl
Categories: Mixed Ensemble
Annotated by Matt Sharrock