Composer: Iannis Xenakis

Title: Dmaathen for Oboe and Percussion (vibraphone, xylorimba, 3 bongos, 3 congas, large pedal bass drum, tam-tam)

Description: There is very little timbral connection between oboe and percussion; accordingly, Xenakis makes no attempt to integrate the sounds of the two instruments. Instead, he creates material for each that proceeds more or less independently (though the instruments remain temporally coordinated throughout). The oboe alternates between sustained passages and short flurries of fast melodic material; long-held sonorities explore a range of extended techniques and effects including multiphonics, timbral trills, squealing tones achieved by biting the reed with the teeth, and so on. The percussionist moves between drums and the vibraphone and marimba. Rhythmic patterns often determine shifts in tempo, and there are many instances in which one distinct layer is superimposed on another. The mallet percussion instruments often join in with the oboe to create dense “arborescences,” (contrapuntal textures that proliferate outward from a central note or line).

Given the nature of the instruments involved, one might expect to hear resonances of the Greek folk music Xenakis loved in his youth. Dmaathen, however, is more clearly a study of extended techniques and rhythmic structures: the flavor of its poetry is decidedly abstract. This work was written for the American duo of Nora Post and Jan Williams. ~ James Harley, All Music Guide

Another note of interest is that a scoring exists in which the oboe is replaced by a soprano saxophone.

Annotated by Ethan Pani