The Task of the Translator

“The Task of the Translator” is a piece where the musical material is literally “translated” between the clarinet, cello, and piano, with varying degrees of fidelity. Techniques that are easy to produce on some instruments, like harmonics on the cello, become intentionally more awkward and cumbersome as they are translated to the other instruments- strained, pinched, quasi-airy tones on the clarinet, and otherworldly piano harmonics. These translations necessitate changes in speed and style of the passages that include them, leading each instrument to have its own unique interpretation of the passages. On top of this, the musicians are placed surrounding the audience and throughout the whole piece play without staying together with each other. Thus, the various gestures, motives, and techniques can be heard flying from one instrument to the other, some translated literally and simply, and some that become nearly unrecognizable through translation. As the piece continues, the translations become less and less literal, and the music teeters on the edge of chaos, before coming to a dead stop with a distant, plaintive melody that echoes through the clarinet and cello.

Score (pdf): The Task of the Translator Score

Recording (musicians: Caitlin Beare, clarinet; Chris Young, cello; Hexin Qiao, piano):

For additional information, questions, or parts requests, contact Aidan at aidangol@usc.edu.