Quartet for Unspecified (Three Treble and One Tenor) Instruments

By Christopher Fulkerson

CF's Composition Desk

Flute from 1764, Image Two

Wooden Transverse Flute, 1764


This quartet WILLOW, or, FREEDOM'S FAVOR'S FALCONER, was written in 1995. It was conceived for flutes, but for reasons given below the nomenclature is left "unspecified," and it may be performed by any suitable melody instruments. It is written in a way that it should work well either for ensemble of similar instruments, such as three flutes with bass flute, or three violins with viola; or with "consorts" of dissimilar instruments, such as violin, flute, oboe, and viola. There are numerous places in the score where the counterpoint has internal turns and ensemble devices that should make sense with either kind of ensemble.

The reason for this unusual type of piece came from the nature of its commission, by the Prairie Pipes, of Wichita, Kansas. This amateur group needed a piece for three recorders and bass recorder, but I felt from the beginning that the piece would go further if it were available to more types of ensemble than only a recorder quartet. So I decided to allow for the old Baroque conception of an ensemble of unspecified instruments, and wrote accordingly.

The title came from an extraordinary dream I had in about 1994, and from the type of material I chose for the piece. I dreamed that I was looking at, even projected into, a painting I had made in high school art class, a whimsical and fantastical pastoral piece in the style of Peter Max that I called "Spring in the Land of OM," painted, as was fashionable at the time, in blacklight water colors. In one part of the painting all the constituent parts were collaborating to pronounce the name of their creator - one flower petal for example would make the sound "wuh," and perhaps a fish would say "uh-ih," and another bit would make the sound "ih-ll," still another, "llow;" though none of them individually had the capacity to speak the name they imagined was their creator, together, they kept repeating "wuh-ihl-llow," again and again. I heard the word plainly in this extraordinarily vivid dream, and it seemed almost as though I would be drawn into the painted beings' world, the dreamland of OM.

Since I had painted them into existence, I decided not to let these beings go on being wrong about the name of their creator. I decided that the piece I was then planning would be named "Willow," in order to make my creations right in their guess as to my name. That was how the "Willow" part of the title came into being. It seemed perfectly compatible with the quartet's lighthearted style. The pulsating motive of the opening counterpoint seemed to recall the repeated "Willow" of my dream. The title seemed however not to reflect other aspects of the composition. Already involved with archaisms, I decided the title could be one of those old-fashioned double titles given to many books and plays of yesteryear. So I worked up a fancifal reference that combines my surname, which means "Son of the Falconer;" to my still most certainly unachieved ideal of freedom; and to my native sense of optimism. There are other pieces in, or planned for, THE FESTIVAL that involve falconry or bird imagery. Once actual musical archaism does appear in the piece: the "chorale" melody of my CANTILENA DI FIORITURE appears here as a bona fide chorale melody.

WILLOW, or, FREEDOM'S FAVOR'S FALCONER is sixteen minutes long, and is in one movement. It is dedicated to my mother, RoseMarie Githens.

The score is 66 pages long, and is copied in the composer's fair hand.



For hard copy, mailed to you: Study Score $15. Performance Score $25.


Updated 2/18/2010.