BLACK, Marc Mellits

This is a very explosive and fun work, composed in a minimal style. You will enjoy playing it and audience will also enjoy listening to you both. Go!

The composer

MARC MELLITS (Baltimore, USA, 1966) is an American composer, professor and musician. His compositions are usually performed all around the world. His works are influenced by minimalism and rock music and are identified with the postminimalism stylist trend.

Mellits is a founding member of the Common Sense Composer’s Collective which focuses on new and alternative ways of collaborating with performance ensembles. He is also the artistic director and keyboard player of the Mellits Consort.

Click here to read more about the composer.

Details of the work

Publisher: Marc Mellits / Dacia Music (ASCAP)
Duration: Around 5:00
Range (written): A2 – A4 (1st baritone) / A2 – F#4 (2nd baritone)
TECHNIQUES: Tonguing accuracy, solid pulse, intonation.
PERFORMANCE: Play with ease and lot of energy. Find the appropriate character to each pattern and section. Conjunction with the other baritone.

Meaning and structure

BLACK was composed for two bass clarinets in 2008. Due to its great and quick success, Mellits soon adapted it for two baritone saxophones and other duos as two bassoons, two bass recorders, two electrics bases. There are also versions for quartet as clarinet, saxophone or percussion, composed from 2015 on.

BLACK was originally composed for two amplified Bass Clarinets, and was written for the virtuoso duo, “Sqwonk”. The two musicians weave tightly woven patterns together, creating a fabric of music that has complete integration. In this “integrated” world, the musicians are equals and complete each other’s every move. As the musical patterns develop, they also move and change, allowing factions to spin off and push the momentum forward. It is five minutes of rapid firing notes combining and merging into one, black (w)hole. Black is also one of the most performed low instrument duos worldwide (program note by Marc Mellits)

Let’s talk a little bit more about the duo version. Both baritones dialogue constantly throughout the piece. There are few patterns that they play at the same time to break this kind of “continuo” effect. In the most part of the piece, dynamics are f (you can also find some mf and ff). Yes, character is “strong” but if you play some patterns a little bit lighter or softer/louder, the final result of the piece is much better, in my opinion. If you are creative musicians, you will easily see them.

BLACK has three big sections, according to their tempi, beat and character:

  1. TEMPO I (bars 1 to 100): The character of the piece is “strong and funky”. The tempo is quarter note = ca. 240 (or dotted half note = ca. 80). The very beginning is in ¾ measure and a solid pulse and after it changes to a 6/8 measure in a character of tarantella dance.
  2. TEMPO II (bars 101 to 216): The tempo is slightly slower (quarter note = ca. 200 / or half note = ca. 100) and this section is funkier. I like to play the unison patterns and some other dialogue patterns, especially the ones with low B’s and A’s.
  3. TEMPO I (bars 217 to 289): We find here some patterns of the first section is different order and less repeats. The final coda gives a really powerful end.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to work on Mellits’ BLACK with me.

Share This Article

Related Posts