by Bruce Stark
tuba and piano
approx. 5 minutes 30 seconds
Song of the Whale was composed in 1993 at the request of tuba player Yasuki Tosaka, whose warm and supportive friendship during my many years in Tokyo, and his wonderful performances of the piece throughout Japan, are fondly remembered. Rather than attempting to imitate the actual sounds of whales--which are themselves amazing--in this piece I wanted to express through music my impression of these mysterious, majestic creatures. Tuba and piano (whale and ocean) seemed a natural fit for evoking this image through music.
The music begins with quiet melodic phrases of the primary theme over a drone in the piano, then moves to a more atmospheric section in which low-register growls and moans (representing their deep-sea presence) are accompanied by extremely low drones in the piano. Soon waves of swirling piano figures depict the movement of water such as currents, splashes and swells on the ocean surface, and finally the stunning moment when a whale breaches is depicted with a return of the primary melody, this time full-bodied and assertive. Swirling piano sounds follow, like the ocean surface recovering from the whale's emergence, and the music returns to more atmospheric sounds as the creature returns to the depths of the sea.
I made minor revisions to the piece in 2016 in preparation for its publication.
An optional suspended cymbal part is suggested when possible, offering enhancement of some of the primary wave-like phrases by adding a "swish", and some subtle but evocative sounds in the atmospheric sections.
Song Of The Whale is included in Stark's CD of chamber music To The Winter Sun (MA Recordings: M021A). For information contact MA Recordings.