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Fired City

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Album Review

Like avant-garde outcast Harry Partch, Frank Denyer often scores his works for bizarre combinations of instruments ("Quick, Quick, The Tamberan Is Coming," for example, calls for four bass flutes) and uses instruments of his own creation. And like Partch, Denyer incorporates a variety of types of non-Western music into an odd outsider sound that's simultaneously like all of them and none of them. The frequent pitch sliding and ornamentation on "The Hanged Fiddler," for instance, recall traditional Japanese music (which Denyer has studied extensively), though Denyer's use of phrasing is distinctly his. Elsewhere, Denyer enjoys using extreme differences in register (a typical Denyer piece might call for piccolo along with contrabass saxophone) and heft (the breathy flute meanderings on "Resonances of Ancient Sins" are often interrupted by blasts of tuba and the sound of Elizabeth Hall slapping a wooden box). But the most important feature of this fine collection of Denyer's work is his unusual and lyrical approach to melody, which has as much to do with his studies of non-Western musics as his connections to the avant-garde.


Born: 1943

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '00s

Composer Frank Denyer's work is marked by his love of lyrical but unconventional melodies and frequent use of microtones. He is also known for his interest in many types of non-Western music, such as Japanese shakuhachi music, Indian music, and the music of the Pokot people of Kenya, as well as his use of unique instrumental groupings and nontraditional and non-Western instruments. Denyer's refusal to write for standard ensembles has limited the number of performances of his music. He has not written...
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Fired City, Frank Denyer
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