for Clarinet, Vibraphone, and Double Bass

The following recording of Counterflow was made at the 2017 Atlantic Music Festival in Maine:

Thanks so much to clarinetist Nick Walshe, vibraphonist Matt Stiens, and bassist Andrew O'Conner for their impressive interpretation. Thanks also to recording engineer Charles Hagaman for sticking around after a concert for a late recording session.

Counterflow was inspired by the braided rivers of Denali National Park in Alaska. Braided rivers result when the water is very high in sedimentation. As the water flows, the deposit and buildup of sediment forces it to constantly change path. This results in a wide riverbed with many small channels whose appearance changes constantly.

Braided River
A braided river somewhere

The continuously evolving interaction of the channels reminded me of the voices of a compound melody, so I set about to sonify the above image, extracting a few of its main paths and using them to generate a compound melody:

Extracted Lines
The lines, extracted from the previous image, which I used to form a compound melody.

The result was the opening material of the vibraphone part:

Good vibes
See the connection? Yeah, it's kinda obscure.

I had to give the melody a rhythm somehow, and by accident stumbled on a swung, syncopated rhythm that complemented the jazzy non-octave-repeating scale I had been using. From there, I treated the material freely, keeping always in mind the image of a constantly shifting flow of melodic lines. (I was also playing a Bach 3-part invention at the time, and this model worked its way in there as well.)