A Flutist's Field Guide to Insects

Full Score: PDF
Audio: not yet available

Instrumentation: solo flute (piccolo/C flute/alto)
Duration: 8:15
Year of Completion: 2011
Program Notes

This work is inspired by studies of three different insects: fireflies, stink bugs, and ladybugs. These insects are extremely common to my home state of Missouri and reading each field guide brought back memories of childhood summers spent outdoors. The work is intended to be whimsical and light in nature despite being fiendishly difficult for the performer in some passages.

Dr. Sara Lewis's research on fireflies shows that the flashes of the male are followed by a specific delay and observed by the female, who may flash back a single time to indicate her interest. Individual pitch entrances in movement one represent this flashing pattern, forming a theme followed by three variations. Eventually the field fills with flashes before dying away to a lone male calling out into the night.

Dr. Leah Teffo's dissertation on the Venda tribe in South Africa posits that their consumption of stink bugs (both raw and cooked) provides essential nutrients while also helping the skin's complexion. The secretions are also used to treat stroke, asthma and colds. The music in this movement is mysterious and mystical, like the rites of a shaman when viewed by an outsider.

Although native to North America, the nine-spotted ladybug population is in rapid decline. The Lost Ladybug Project (www.lostladybug.org) is dedicated to photographing ladybugs of all types, specifically those with nine spots. The final movement begins with playful music representing the fluttering of the elusive ladybug's wings. The recommended method to obtain accurate photographs of ladybugs is to chill them in a cooler - the music is similarly frozen in the middle, stretching out the melodic material in a frigid stasis.