for bass clarinet (original version)
I wrote Press Release
in 1991 for Evan Ziporyn. When you compose for one person, you can't get all the colors that you'd have with an ensemble or orchestra, so you have to imagine some sort of interesting problem. I wanted to do something that was really rhythmic. The original idea behind this piece was that of a high melody alternating with a low bass line, so that you get a high pop and a low pop switching back and forth as fast as possible, and these two worlds coexist. I wanted the upper melody to be recognizable and the bottom bass line to be recognizable, to be a real bass line, a driving funk thing. In classical music, the bass is only there to support the melody, which is where the action is. But the bass line is the place where funk music really shines. Who has the best bass lines in the business? I am a big James Brown fan, and, I thought, if you want a bass line, you got to go to James. So I made the key changes sound like James Brown. Because of the way the bass clarinet works, I thought you'd have to press the keys down to make all the low notes, and you'd release the keys to make the high notes....Press Release. I was really proud of myself because I thought I had made this funny joke, and then of course Evan said, "You know, a lot of those high notes you play with all your fingers down, and a lot of those low notes you play with all your fingers up." But I didn't think it was worth it to change the title.
— David Lang