Clarinet Threads

Denis Smalley

Clarinet Threads

  • Denis Smalley
  • Year of composition: 1985
  • Duration: 13:25
  • Instrumentation: clarinet and stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Roger Heaton with support from Eastern Arts
  • ISWC: T0114049501

The title Clarinet Threads reflects the relationship between the clarinet and the electroacoustic sounds. The clarinet can produce a variety of sound types — key noises, air sounds, less definite pitches, very high notes produced by biting the reed, multiphonics… The clarinet is threaded through the electroacoustic fabric, sometimes merged with it, sometimes surfacing in a more soloistic role. Besides passages which use the clarinet in a traditional manner there are stylized environments drawn from outside music — the calls and cries of nature, the movement of wind and water, and textural motion suggesting floating and drifting.


Clarinet Threads was realized in the Electroacoustic Music Studio of the University of East Anglia in Norwich (UK) with many of the electroacoustic sounds created during visits to a variety of studios — the Computer Systems Research Institute (with its Structured Sound Synthesis Project (SSSP) system) of the University of Toronto (Canada), the Finnish Radio Experimental Studio in Helsinki, Studio 123 of the Groupe de recherches musicales (Ina-GRM) in Paris (France), and the University of Birmingham Electroacoustic Music Studio (UK). It was premiered by the clarinettist Roger Heaton at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival (UK) on October 15, 1985. It was awarded the Prix Ars Electronica of the Austrian radio ORF in 1988. Clarinet Threads was first released in 1990 on the Computer Music Current #6 compact disc on the Wergo label (WER 2026-2). Clarinet Threads was commissioned by Roger Heaton with funds provided by Eastern Arts (UK).




  • October 15, 1985, Roger Heaton, clarinet • Norfolk & Norwich Festival, St Peter Mancroft, Norwich (England, UK)