Silbo, Op. 40/2

scoring: piccolo and piano

duration: 8'

composed: 2003/2009




status: available for performance


First performance: Purcell Room, London, Mark Underwood and the composer, 4 Jan 2003


programme note:

In many mountainous parts of the world, whistling is the only means of communication across impassible ravines. Silbo is the name given to this 'language' in the Canary Islands; the name neatly combines the idea of whistling and the notion of syllables. It is of course not a language at all, but a system of signals, comparable to the bugle calls of the military and the use of the boatswain's pipe at sea. A number of short rhythmic patterns and a fragment of dance music are connected to form a line, and central to the idea of the music is the contrast of high pitched sounds competing with the wind, and echoing among mountains and valleys; repeated, half-heard, disappearing into a vast silence.

Justin Connolly


other comments:

The revision after the 2003 performance is thought to have been only to the piano part.


Programme note from the programme for the first performance.