audio recording by Amy Advocat
video performance by Rob Patterson
On the Whiteness of the Whale was composed for bass clarinet virtuoso Amy Advocat. Many of the sounds encountered in this piece are products of Amy’s unique approach to the instrument, from the diaphanous drones that frame the piece to the guttural howling encountered in the middle. By chance, both Amy and I were reading Moby Dick that summer. The title is a direct reference to chapter 42 in Melville’s famous novel:
Aside from those more obvious considerations touching Moby Dick, which could not but occasionally awaken in any man’s soul some alarm, there was another thought, or rather vague, nameless horror concerning him, which at times by its intensity completely overpowered all the rest; and yet so mystical and well nigh ineffable was it, that I almost despair of putting it in a comprehensible form.