Flutter, swing, and squawk: Eric Mandat's Chips Off the Ol' Block

The bass clarinet first appeared in the music world as a supportive instrument in orchestras, wind ensembles and military bands, but thanks to Giuseppe Saverio Raffaele Mercadante's opera Emma d'Antiochia (1834), the bass clarinet began to embody the role of a soloist. Important passages in orchestral works such as Strauss' Don Quixote (1898) and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (1913) further advanced the perception of the bass clarinet as a solo instrument, and beginning in the 1970's, composers such as Harry Sparnaay and Brian Ferneyhough began writing solo works for unaccompanied bass clarinet. In the twenty-first century, clarinet virtuoso and composer Eric Mandat experiments with the capabilities of the bass clarinet in his piece Chips Off the Ol' Block, utilizing enormous registral leaps, techniques such as multiphonics and quarter-tone fingerings, as well as incorporating jazz-inspired rhythms into the music. Through an analysis of the piece and a series of interviews including Eric Mandat and other soloists and composers, this thesis will demonstrate how Chips Off the Ol' Block has inspired soloists to pursue more bass clarinet repertoire and to view the instrument as equivalent to the b-flat clarinet.