for clarinet, bassoon and piano
Commissioned by Robert Walzel with a grant from The University of Kansas
Duration: 8 minutes
Strange Loops was commissioned by clarinetist Robert Walzel, brother Scott Walzel, bassoon, and pianist Steve Harlos. It was premiered in Ostend, Belgium, at ClarinetFest 2018 on July 9, 2018, with Gary Whitman on bass clarinet in lieu of bassoon.
The title refers to an idea coined by author Douglas Hofstadter, "a cyclic structure that goes through several levels in a hierarchical system. It arises when, by moving only upwards or downwards through the system, one finds oneself back where one started." "...a paradoxical level-crossing feedback loop" - Douglas Hofstadter from I am a Strange Loop
Examples include the Moebius strip; certain drawings by MC Escher, a Bach Canon, a Shepard-Risset glissando, and others. In this piece, in addition to the mathematical and paradoxical philosophical concept, it also refers to the structural element of recursive, self-referential musical motifs that have been generated by the personal relationships between composer and performer... pretty esoteric, but meaningful to me.
- James Scott Balentine