clarinet, horn, violin, cello and piano

Smaller Knives is an extremist take on the ritardando. The tempo slows down interminably and exponentially, creating an environment in which ordinary music does not survive; before long, the tempo has become so slow that the next note will never sound. Fortunately, this endless ritardando is creative as well as destructive, for the space between notes is (usually) not empty. In Smaller Knives, a passage of music stretched in time reveals an imaginary “inner life”, just as a painting viewed up-close may reveal a world of details. Despite the single-minded directionality of the “zooming in” process, the magnification metaphor inspires a variety of effects in the piece (panning, blurring, focusing, etc.) The process is also suggestive in other ways, evoking ideas of exploration, progress, hierarchy of structure, and cycles of annihilation and rebirth.