BRONZE VEILS


Instrumentation:
Trombone, 2 percussion: [1 - suspended cymbal, tam-tam, tom-toms (high, medium, low), sarna bells (F, C, D, E, G), vibraphone, bell tree], [2 - triangle (medium), wind chimes (metal), wood block (medium), water gong, temple blocks, tam-tam, glass harmonica (A, C#, D, D#, E, F, G, G#, A, B, C, D, D#)]

Duration: 12 minutes

Commissioned By:
William McGlaughlin

Premiere:
1979 by William McGlaughlin, trombone

Available From:
ECS Publishing, distributed by Canticle Distributing

Composer's Notes:
Bronze Veils is inspired by a series of paintings by the American painter Morris Louis. The paintings were created by layering soft tints on canvas so that the effect was that of gazing through, or not gazing through, several veils of color. That visual effect inspires the combination of instruments in my work. The layering of long decays from metallic percussion in combination with trombone should allow the listener to audibly penetrate several ‘veils’ of sound. Bronze Veils was composed for William McGlaughlin in 1979.

In 1977 I discovered the paintings of Morris Louis at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, through an exhibit dedicated to his work. I was fascinated by his painting technique, a process in which he poured his paint, diluted with thinners, onto a large canvas, and then tipped the canvas, guiding the paint along. When the paint dried, it created a thin veil of color on the canvas. He then repeated the process layering another color over the preceding one. The results of the process create the effect of several veils of color through which the viewer peers.

I though it would be an interesting composing challenge to see if I could created a similar effect, but with thin veils of instrumental color. So I chose trombone, metalophones, and a few membranophones as the instrumentation for Bronze Veils. The title for the piece is taken from a Louis painting of the same title.

When I composed the work in 1979, I envisioned a time when it would be not only be easy to project images during the performance, but also quiet (as slide projectors were at the time were very noisy) and able to flow musically with the music of the piece.
 
— Libby Larsen

Score Errata:
Perc. 1, measure 113, beat three, G should be G natural

Sarna bells are small bronze bells that are pitched. You find them in bunches, usually tied to a cotton or silk cord and are most often found in shops which also sell India print clothes, etc. If you cannot locate Sarna bells, orchestra bells will work, but it would be best to experiment with various mallets which can produce a smaller sound when rolled on the bell. Plastic mallets might work as well.