Sarab for Piccolo

Sarab (mj167) was composed in 1991 for Danielle Eden, who gave the first performance in London’s Purcell Room on 29th June 1993.

A mourning, solitary dancer comes to terms with his varying emotions by performing, either to himself or to others, a Sarab. Although the dancer’s feet maintain a fairly regular shuffle to some unheard music, his mind produces an often unrelated counterpoint of seldom stable ideas. This is marked by the change of expressive trajectory in most phrases, played against an underlying very slow semibreve beat. Although, like a Sarabande, the dance is based in slow triple time, a Sarab does not incorporate a regular harmonic displacement and is never part of a dance-suite.

Sarab exploits the often neglected lower range of the piccolo, and its ability to perform eighth-tone music. Malcolm Hill’s use of this microtone forms the basis for quite wide intervals, which never serve as “chromatic inflections”.