Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus, FAQs

For program notes and performance history, see here

Below are tips about instruments, techniques, errata etc. collated across various performances so far! Thank you everyone for co-evolving the performance practices of this piece!

Instruments and preparations

1. Waldteufel

They are actually quite easy to make and it would be good to have a range of sizes – see information [prepared by Zela Papageorgiou] on how to make them. I did a project with school children where we all built waldteufels and it can be interesting to have different sizes. They sound like frogs or insects so it’s nice to have different ‘voices’ in the mass.

2. Spring drum

See: https://remo.com/products/product/spring-drum-thunder-tube/

 3. Wind wands

See: https://larkinthemorning.com/products/roa010?variant=52990011603

4. Claxon

see: https://www.partysavers.com.au/products/metal-horn

5. Kazoos

These can be metal or plastic

6. Kontraforte or Contrabassoon low-F extension

In the original performance with Klangforum Wien, Lorelei Dowling developed the attachment for the kontraforte to produce the low F required at the end of the work. This instrument is also able to produce the low A which the contrabassoon can’t play (in that case, play low Bflat)

See below for Ben Roidl-Ward’s excellent instructions for building the extension for a contrabassoon. Rigid plastic tubing is needed (soft-sided aluminium plumbing tube doesn’t affect the pitch).

7. Mvt 4 Transmission – Violin & Snare drum duo

I think of this ‘scene’ like a puppet show. Here, intimate lighting (eg: a desk lamp is suggested in the score) can be helpful to create a special atmosphere. The snare is prepared – basically turned into a very large waldteufel with a string threaded through the skin tied to a rosined friction stick (see point 1 above and the score for more info). Percussionists have used various combinations of rosined rattan stick and normal violin bow (or just a violin bow) to play the snare string.

Klangforum Wien, rehearsal Lukas Shiske (perc) & Sophie Schafleitner (vln), photo, L.Lim (2018); Performance Lukas Shiske (perc) & Sarah Saviet (vln), photo, (c) Camille Blake/ Maerzmusik (2022)

Q . About the ‘Transmission’ movement. My concern/curiosity is about how to approach the “theatrical” performance: in the video, a comedic response is provoked from the audience, and I was wondering if that is the intention, or if, for instance, the musicians should approach the part as “serious” as possible, being the comedic response something that occurs just incidentally. It’s mainly about the percussionist: is he/she making fun of the violinist, is he/she seriously trying to duplicate what the violinist is doing, is he/she throwing a tantrum once he/she finds himself/herself unable to duplicate the violin…? Are we trying to provoke a comedic response from the audience or not? Does it matter?

A. I think about it as ‘pathos’ rather than comedic – I don’t think one should overdo it and ham it up and deliberately make the audience laugh. Actually I think the players have to concentrate just to play the music and the situation and the music itself tells a story without turning it into a clown act.

8. Brass mutes

For trumpet and horn, instead of CDs used as mutes, the musicians of Klangforum Wien used aluminium pizza/pie plates; I prefer this sound. eg: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/50-Aluminum-Tin-Foil-Baking-Pie-Flan-Dish-Plate-Disposable-Party-Bowl-Tray-New-/272070353101

Other production elements

The plastic…
should be as noisy as possible (its appearance is a disruptive event!)

Mvt 5 – lighting

It would be great if the hall can have a different lighting state for this last section – a deep blue light works well and creates a sense of another world.

Radio Mics

Amplification for the solo violin in Mvt 1 is suggested (though if the acoustic is good, then it’s not necessary)

Amplification on wrists of percussionist is also recommended in Mvt 1 and IV (though may not be necessary also)

Other questions:

Q. The trumpet half-valve sounds, how precise should the sound and tuning should be?
A. as precise as possible (please refer to the Ensemble Klangforum Wien recording)

Q. Multiphonics in Winds, do you have in mind a specific fingering for those?
A. These are either overtone-type (bass clarinet) or achieved through underblowing (flute, bassoon) ie: using normal fingering, the multiphonic is achieved through low breath pressure/embouchure position.

Errata (June 2022)

Mvt 1

Bar 10, piano, 4th beat put last 2 notes (B & A) down the octave

Bar 21, flute, 1st note is just F1/4# (delete the other notes)

Bar 55, is Bass Clarinet [Bar 73 onwards is clarinet]

Bar 76, Vc, 2nd beat, add accent

Bar 106, Tbn, delete slur to 107

Bar 109, Vc, 2nd/3rd beats, the double stop is Bflat-G (not F)

Mvt 2

Bar 10, Tbn is senza sord. (also the ‘3’ is missing in the triplet bracket in 2nd beat)

Bar 12, 13, B Cl. Delete the ‘ord’ instructions (& arrow in bar 13)

Bar 34, 4th beat, instruction ‘To Clarinet’ is missing in the part

Bar 49, B Cl, beginning 4th beat, remove the tongue slap on the 1st tied semiquaver

Mvt 3

Bar 31, Vc 1st beat dynamic is pp

Bar 39, Vibraphone is l.v.

Further clarifications courtesy of Jürd Henneberger/Ensemble Phoenix, 1 Nov 2022

>„Extinction Events & Dawn Chorus“:

– My first question is about the use of the e-bows. You use them in a very low register. The problem is, that the space for the e-bow on the strings of the B flat (Bb 2) between the dampers and the metal frame is very narrow. in this part (the first quarter of the total length of the string) it’s impossible to let vibrate the fundamental tone, you can only activate the 2nd overtone, i.e. the octave. With the B natural (B 1) it’s even worse: because the strings are wrapped with copper wire, the e-bow can activate only the overtones from the 3rd (the duodecime f# 3). And the sound is very low (about pp, barely audible in the ensemble). What do you propose? I don’t know exactly how f.e. Klangforum Wien solved this problem. In the beginning of the piece you can hear very weekly some high overtones, but not the fundamental. Is this the effect you want? The second moment of the e-bows (b. 89-102) the ensemble is so present and loud that I doubt that you can hear anything from the piano.

yes, I know… the electric guitar e-bow really doesn’t work well on piano string especially in the position/registers as you point out.

My preference that there is some sound at the beginning – why don’t you see if a related string works well and let me know?

For the later part, if it’s not working, just leave it out.


>vlc b. 20, 4th beat: the a flat with arrow is still a multi phonic? Or is it the 7th overtone? (same question in b. 50, 3rd beat)

->vlc b. 30, 3rd beat: the E is a Multiphonic?

generally, any non-standard harmonic will be a ‘multiphonic’ or unstable noise sound

>perc b. 59, 3rd beat: is the symbol for „spin“ missing (see cb.)?

perc can spin or trem to keep the sound going

>vlc. b. 84: f ?


II:->hrn b. 13, 3rd beat: a flat instead of a nat.? (see trp.)

yes, should be same as trumpet

>pno r. h. b. 30: 2nd beat c# instead of c? yes

>3rd beat g nat.? 

yes, Gnat- cl.

>b. 38: grace note (end of glass.) b flat instead of b? yes

III:- >Trb. b. 34: mp?


V:- >b.15–24: there are totally 32 seconds! When I follow the given timeline, I arrive in b. 25 at 5’32’’. Shall we shorten this fermata to 23 seconds?

ha! well counted (you do your homework better than others including me). Let’s make fermata at bar 24, 3 seconds rather than 5

>b. 32, first half: the duration of the contrabassoon solo in tempo 50 is 18 seconds. Shall I give the start for this Solo at 7’42’’?

sure, that’s fine – in reality, you just wait for the contrabassoon.

>In the end we could add the double bass, detuning the 5th string to the low F of the contrabassoon. That could have a good effect to support the pitch of the contrabassoon and the cello which are not really clear and stable. What do you think?

no, I prefer just the contrabassoon and ‘cello as a duo. unstable is ok.

Further questions from Ryan McAdams/ CRASH Ensemble, 14 Nov. 2022

>m. 27 – Just confirming that the 2nd “beat” inside the first repeat is part of a septuplet each time (i.e., the repeat happens after the 4th septuplet 16th). A lot of performances seem to treat this as a quarter note the first time and as part of a septuplet the second time.

yes, you’re correct.

>m. 44 – you specify the cymbals should be scraped on a bass drum, but Klangforum did it on a wooden box.  Do you have a preference?  And are the individual strikes (i.e., m 45 with the small hand cymbal) a fast scrape or a strike on the bass drum with the cymbal?

The box was deemed a more effective solution in getting a reliable sound – the percussionist particularly liked his box. But, whatever it takes… bass drum skin may need a little rosin for better friction effect. small hand cymbals also scraped (some of those are quite fast so sometimes it comes out as a strike)

>m. 52 – is the crescendo only for the trumpet, or should the other brass also cres?

the trumpet is prioritised there as it also takes the lead and is louder in the succeeding bars

Recording from Klangforum Wien conducted by Peter Rundel is on a KAIROS CD (please buy the CD….) & can be found on Spotify 

And if you’ve read this far down the page… a video