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Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale), is a work for electric flute, cello and amplified piano by the American avant-garde composer George Crumb. George Henry Crumb or George Henry Jr. Crumb (born October 24, ) is an American Examples include seagull effect for the cello (e.g. Vox Balaenae), metallic vibrato for the piano (e.g. Five Pieces for enter the stage during the piece, and has also used unusual layouts of musical notation in a number of his scores. Get this from a library! Vox balaenae: for three masked players. [George Crumb].

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He is still living; at 85 years of age.

Vox Balaenae, for 3 masked… | Details | AllMusic

He obtained a masters degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He then studied briefly in Berlin.

Crumb is one of the most decorated composers of our times; he won a Pulitzer Prize for Echoes of Time and the River: Four Processionals for Orchestra in It was written in Cope It was written in June, in Media, Pennsylvania.

After graduating, Crumb landed a gig and taught composition at the University of Colorado and then later the University of Pennsylvania, where he remained for over 30 years; retiring in the last decade. Some of his most successful students include the composers Christopher Rouse, Jennifer Higdon and Osvaldo Golijov, one of my personal favorite composers of all time. Crumb is also a developer of extended instrumental and vocal technique.

Crumb experimented with color fingerings which are alternative fingerings used in succession with each other to alter the timbre and color of a pitch slightly Cope Crumb also played with alternative bowings, prepared piano, electrically amplified instruments, unconventional bows or beaters, taps, knocks, singing while playing instruments, etc.

He was considered avant garde for his synthesis of styles fusing genres such as Flamenco with Baroque quotations, Mahler orchestrational styles, and Asian influences, etc.

He also experimented with new and alternate tuning systems, often requiring instrumentalists to change tunings in the middle of a piece galaenae does this with the cello in Vox Balaenae too.


Crumb, like many of his contemporaries, also experiments with graphic notation Cope The piece is written for electric flute, electric cello, and electric piano, but none of these are really electric instruments, rather they are amplified acoustic instruments. In addition, the three players also play other secondary instruments.

Vox Balaenae For 3 Masked Players

It lasts 18 minutes, approximately. However, Crumb chose not to literally transcribe the whale calls, preferring instead to use the instruments to suggest the sound and feel of the songs Cohen Crmub masks, by effacing a sense of human projection, will symbolize the powerful impersonal forces of nature nature dehumanized.

The balanae does utilize a score, and all players are directed to read from it, rather than from balsenae parts. There is a recommended setup chart for the instruments, but not the speakers used. For the piano, a microphone should be suspended over the bass strings of the instrument; for the flute and the cello, microphones should be placed geprge the instruments. The placement of the speakers is left to the discretion of the performers. The amplification should be adjusted so that the forte passages are quite powerful in effect, but without distortion, and the level of amplification should not be adjusted during the performance.

The score uses no key signature; accidentals only apply to the notes they precede, except in cases of immediate repetition of pitch or patterns of pitches. Larger accidentals apply to more than one note.

Vox Balaenae

Metronome markings are approximate and may vary slightly depending on the acoustical properties of the hall. Even though the score is at times graphic, the rhythm and pitch are fairly strict and conventionally marked throughout. There is not a lot of indeterminism in this piece. A lot of the style of this piece is derived from its unique and experimental timbres and colors. It was, as mentioned before, written for bwlaenae flute, cello, and piano.

The flute should be equipped with the low b-natural but this is no problem, because most flutists have this type of flute at about the high school level. However, there are many many more instruments and techniques other than the three described in the title.

Another tool used is that syllables are whispered into the flute, phonetic syllables, not words. Flutter tongue is also used. Alternative fingerings, or color fingerings are used for subtle changes in timbre. Flute harmonics of the 3 rd and 4 th partials are utilized in this piece, and both the fundamental, or fingered sfore, and the sounding pitch are notated in the score. The piano part requires several special extended techniques such as pizzicato playing, muted tones, production of harmonics, etc.


Crumb indicates that the strings must be marked crunb the correct pitch names with tape in order to increase accuracy.

George Crumb – Wikipedia

Tape can even be used, or crayon, to mark the nodal point on the strings that would produce the harmonics. Any prepared string pitches he notates in the score with an elongated zero, in his directions for the piece. In this vpx, the damper pedal is georgw throughout, letting the sound vibrate through the pauses.

Notes in boxes indicate that keys are to be silently depressed. All glissandos occupy the total duration of the note which they are affixed. The portamento effect a very short glissando immediately preceding a note is always specifically indicated by the score.

Quarter tones, quarter tone trills, and quarter tone trills while glissandoing are all used in this piece. Other cello techniques used include Bartok pizzicatos, sul ponticello bowing, and the bow position being moved as lines are being played. Players must also sing and whistle, which are notated at actual pitch. The flautist and cellist both play the crotales.

The piece is in 3 movements, or a simple 3 part form or design. The Sea-Theme is presented in the cello in harmonicsaccompanied by dark, fateful chords of strummed by piano strings. The emergence of man in the Cenozoic era is symbolized by a restatement of the Strauss. Oxford University Press, This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: