Still Image (2007-11)

Owen Underhill

string quartet, and clarinet

Commission: François Houle with support from the British Columbia Arts Council


  • 1. I
  • 2. II
  • 3. III


  • 6 Nov 2007 8:00 pm
    Goldstein | Oesterle | Underhill | Vivier

Program Notes

Still Image was commissioned by François Houle in 2007. Composed in three movements, it utilizes selective extended effects for the clarinet including quartertones in the first movement. The second movement, which includes an improvised cadenza, is entirely based on ‘duotones’ (rather beautiful two-part multiphonics) that François introduced me to. The final movement is an energetic and compact dance with a slow introduction.

Although the title references still life painting and photography, the piece is at times in full motion. It is as if the frozen two-dimensional visual image comes to life as the aural microscope reveals the myriad of detail inside the sound world. As the magnification increases, the tone splits and the rhythm comes into full animation. Still Image was premiered by François and Quatuor Bozzini. I revised the first and second movements in 2011, simplifying the structure and bringing into relief the clarinet part.