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Inyoka Etshanini (Snake in the grass)

by Robert Fokkens

Page 1

Page 2 of Inyoka Etshanini (Snake in the grass)


For quarter-tone alto flute, violin and cello.
Like much of my recent music, Inyoka Etshanini, a Zulu phrase, attempts to engage with a number of issues raised by post-colonial critical thinking. Central to my response is a concern with the construction of identity in the context of my experience of cultural hybridity as a South African. On one level, this can be heard in the choices I have made in developing my musical self: it is technically rooted in South African (particularly Xhosa) bow music, but one can also hear traces that range from the work of Cage and Feldman to jazz to fiddle music to electronica.

On another level, the enactment of an interaction – here in a quiet, understated confrontation – between two radically different materials reflects my interest in how the meeting of these voices gives rise to new entities. The title is thus more conceptual than programmatic, though perhaps the distinction is rather vague in music – it stems from a comment made recently by a friend in response to another new piece that “there is always a snake in the grass”.

Inyoka Etshanini is scored for quarter-tone alto flute – an alto flute designed to play accurate quarter-tones chromatically across its range – violin and cello. It was written for Carla Rees and her ensemble rarescale, who specialize in performing music which includes quarter-tone alto and bass flutes, and was premiered on 13th June in London.

Robert Fokkens

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