The Monkey’s Raincoat

for flute ensemble (2 piccolos, 4 flutes, 2 alto, 2 bass, 1 contrabass), 2016, duration: 8 minutes


“The Monkey’s Raincoat” is inspired by sketches of a piece I composed in 2009 for laptop quartet.  The sketches consisted of a chorale that was never audible in the laptop version but instead were used for vocoding vocal materials.  In the flute ensemble version the chorale is front and center.  


Earlier this summer I had a discussion with a flutist friend about the sound world of an ensemble of flutes.  I began to think about the possibilities and assembled some sketches.  Some of these ideas came from my interest in analysis of sounds – in this case of a recording of the Basho haiku, “The Monkey’s Raincoat” in Japanese.  From the analysis I was able to generate midi information that followed the melodic/harmonic material of the recording.  The midi information was transcribed in notation.  The material is quite complex and I used my own artistic license to winnow it down to notes, lines, and textures that I wanted.  This material is primarily in the piccolos and C flutes.


The chorale, most prominently featured in the alto, bass, and contrabass flutes, is from my 2009 composition, “Basho Fragments: The Monkey’s Raincoat” for laptop quartet.  In the laptop version the four players trigger sounds from the computer while occasionally intoning the haiku, “The Monkey’s Raincoat” in its English translation.  The sound of the spoken words are sent through a vocoder (synthesizes a modulator, in this case a voice) in the left channel of a stereo track with a carrier wave (the midi notes of the chorale) in the right channel to produce a modified version of the left channel) thus producing a sound effect makes the human voice sound synthetic with the synthesized chords of the chorale.  I liked the chorale enough to separate it from the vocoder idea and give it to the flute ensemble version as prominent material.  The last statement of the chorale is in the closing section under a wash of sound from the upper flutes.

Go Back

Go Back

T   © Larry Nelson 2017