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Four Signs (score & parts) - BSN/BSN&CBSN

Composer: Steinmetz, John

Publisher: TrevCo

Edition: 1679 - 68855


Four Signs 
for bassoon and bassoon doubling contrabassoon

by John Steinmetz (b.1951) American composer, bassoonist, writer, satirist, speaker

I. Mind the Gap
II. Change, Go Inside
III. Love One Another
IV. All Places from Here

From the composer:

This music was nearly complete before I figured out what to call it. I decided to name the movements after four of my favorite signs, ( I love taking pictures of signs). "Mind the Gap" warns passengers on London subway platforms. "Change: Go Inside" was the exhortation on gas pumps at our neighborhood station. I was sure it also meant that changing the world starts with changing yourself. "Love One Another" appeared on a handmade sign just up the street from our house. "All Place from Here" shows the way to a viewpoint at Petra in Jordan. 

In this duet for three instruments, the odd-numbered movements are for two bassoons, and the even-numbered movements are for bassoon and contrabassoon. The bassoon movements usually weave the two instruments around each other as equal partners, often mirroring or playing follow the leader. In the movements with contrabassoon, the two instruments tend to trade places in foreground and background. I wanted to bring out the instruments' singing side, to wallow a bit in the ways two bassoons can blend, and to explore the melodic side of the contrabassoon. I tried to work with basic, familiar, human emotions. 

As a bassoonist, I have enjoyed duet-playing, and after finishing this duo I recognized the influence of duets by Telemann, Bach, Morley, and others, composed for the pleasure of players, with musical conversation and interweaving of parts. Some of their duets are canons, full of cleverness and fun and often glowing with beauty. 

I am grateful to Margaret Phillips and Nicolasa Kuster for hatching and organizing this project, and I thank the many colleagues who participated in the commission. Much of the piece seems to me to be about love, and so I dedicate this music to my wife and partner, Kazi Pitelka, from whom and with whom I have learned so much about that topic.