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Balter: Strohbass Program Notes

Marcos Balter (b. 1974) is a Brazilian-born composer based in Chicago whose energy and experimental creativity permeate his compositional output. His early exposure to the works of Berio, Reich, and Ligeti and his curiosity about music notation have undoubtedly shaped the textural aesthetic of his works, and living amidst the thriving Chicago new music scene has afforded him access to some of the greatest contemporary performers of our generation.

Strohbass for bass flute and baritone saxophone was premiered on June 13, 2011 at the Music Institute of Chicago by Shanna Gutierrez and Ryan Muncy and has subsequently been recorded  by Claire Chase and Ryan Muncy on his 2013 album Hot. Steve Smith of The New York Times describes the work as “… purring, popping and fluttering in an eerie pas de deux.”

The title refers to the vocal fry register of the human voice; this register produces the lowest frequency and is often associated with a creaking, popping, or rattling sound. Balter realizes these vocal effects through a number of extended instrumental techniques: for the bass flute, he includes timbral trills, flutter tonguing, tongue rams, percussive syllables, and key clicks and for the baritone saxophone, he employs flutter tonguing, key clicks, and slap tonguing.

Shanna Gutierrez and Ryan Muncy: World Premiere Performance

Claire Chase and Ryan Muncy: Hot

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