Through the Digital Door: Clarinet works in CMC's library

In the second instalment of the 'Through the Digital Door' series, CMC Librarian Susan Brodigan takes a look at eight works for clarinet. Four of these works feature a tape or electronic part, and four are for solo clarinet. These eight works open the digital door on the vast selection of music available in the CMC Library.

If you have a library or research query, please email Susan on

Emma O'Halloran Truth and Beauty 5'

Composed in 2010 for clarinet and stereo playback, Emma O'Halloran's work was premiered at Kaleidoscope Night. The tape part is designed to be an open space, creating an environment to allow the performer to explore the full sonic potential of the instrument. The composer outlines in her programme note that:

this work was based on an idea stemming from reading about quarks (elementary particles and fundamental constituents of matter). As with quarks, this piece was written in a way that makes it difficult to 'directly observe or isolate' where the tape part ends and the live instrument begins.


This work is the first in a series of five works for clarinets and flute, dealing with the themes of isolation and infiltration. Written for solo clarinet, eyam i was commissioned by Carol McGonnell and Argento with funds from the Arts Council of Ireland/An Comhairle Ealaíon, the work was premiered by Carol McGonnell in 2014 at Night Music in Belfast. As outlined in the programme note:

Eyam is a small village in Derbyshire, England, best known as being the 'plague village' that chose to isolate itself when the plague was discovered there in August 1665, rather than let the infection spread.

The score is colour coded to allow the performer to reflect the different 'languages' that must be spoken throughout the performance, each with their own tempo, timbre, register and personality.

Ann Cleare - eyam i (it takes an ocean not to) Heather Roche, clarinet

Sebastian Adams Larghetto 4'

Larghetto was written in 2011 and was premiered by Léonie Bluett in 2012 in the Royal Irish Academy of Music at a Kirkos solo concert.

Ryan Molloy Cantaireacht 6'

Written for clarinet and stereo fixed media in 2014, this work was commissioned by Moving on Music and premiered at Night Music in Belfast in 2014 by Carol McGonnell. Translating to English as 'chant', Cantaireacht is inspired by 13th-century music of the ars antiqua style and Irish traditional sean-nós. The composer provides more detail in a programme note:

Merely six minutes in length, it contains the sentiment of my 'prayer' presented in a still opening, a zealous and more energetic middle section, followed by a return to quiet prayerfulness at the end, all the while making considerable demands on the clarinettist, particularly in breathing and phrasing.

This work featured on new music::new Ireland 3, CMC's promotional CD released in 2018.

Jonathan Nangle particle 7'

Written in 2008 for clarinet and electronics, particle was commissioned by Ergodos for Jonathan Sage, with funds provided by The Arts Council of Ireland/An Comhairle Ealaíon. The performer and the electronics play as equal partners throughout the work. The composer explains his inspiration for the piece as a short history of the Periodic Table, following the announcements of the discovery of two new elements, 113 and 115 in 2004.

What struck me was the infectious sense of unknown exploration and also the strange nature of the elements the further up the Periodic Table you travel... it was the notion of stability versus instability that first got me thinking.

Anne-Marie O'Farrell Ruach 5'

Written in 2008 for solo clarinet, Ruach is the Hebrew word for wind, spirit and breath. This work was originally written for three different clarinets (bass, Bb and Eb), and revised in 2015 to allow the performer to perform the work on a single Bb clarinet. The composer's programme note explains the representation of the three instruments:

The three instruments represent the presence of the Spirit in the three persons of the Trinity. Chords are based on fifths and also on thirds, to form a further suggestion of the Trinity.

A recording of this work by Deirdre O'Leary featured on Contemporary Music from Ireland, Volume 8. Anne-Marie O'Farrell also talks about the background to composing her work in this feature.

Rob Canning Costruzione Illegittima 10'

This work is written for clarinet, live electronics and quadraphonic sound diffusion. It was premiered at Galway Arts Festival in 2001. The score outlines how the piece is to be performed in its preface notes:

The performer chooses his own route through the score, as well as other parameters such as tempo and dynamics. The piece can last between 7 and thirty minutes.

Eibhlís Farrell Earthloops 4'

Premiered in 2005 by Paul Roe, Earthloops is written for solo clarinet. The composer describes the pieces as 'lighthearted and playful in character, exploring the full range of the clarinet.'

It is based on a twelve-note scale and is in three sections, each of which is built melodically on a different diminished 7th chord. It highlights the contrasts in register unique to the clarinet.

Listen to clarinettist Paul Roe perform this piece below.