Pits & Pendulums for bassoon and tape (2002)

Instrumentation: bassoon, 4-channel-tape

Duration: 13′30

FP: Chemnitz, 16.10.03 (Thomas Eberhardt, Bassoon)

Further performances:
Leipzig, 17.Oct. 2003
Dresden, Sept. 28, 2005


Pits & Pendulums was composed in the studio for electronic music of the Dresden Music Academy, supported by a grant of the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony.

While examinating the vast collection of sound material – multiphonics and more or less alienated sounds of the bassoon – which I had previously recorded to produce the tape out of them, it became obvious, that the most interesting parts of the material were the “rubbish” of this recording session: breathing sounds, misleading or failed attempts to produce complex multiphonics, a self-ironic laughter of the player…
So, I decided only to use a small amount of this material, but to try to make the most out of that, and especially of the “side products” of the sound production – consequently, the part of the solo bassoon turned out to become quite noisy, too.

The piece consists of five movements that may be played in varying order. There are solos of the bassoon (Monolog) and the tape (Response), two Dialogues between bassoon and tape and an Improvisation in which the soloist has to combine newly arranged fragments from the other movements within a rather amorphous soundscape of the tape.

The title refers to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, telling the fight of a prisoner of the spanish inquisition against a sophisticated killing machinery that leaves him but the choice between being decapitated by a sharp pendulum or drowning in a pit: symbol for the situation of both the composer, who has to continuously decide between aesthetical and technical alternatives, and the player, who stands between the demands of the musical work and his own imaginations and creativity, a situation being even more precarious in music with electronics.