Music for Chameleons for wind quintet was commissioned and premiered by the Copenhagen Wind Quintet in 1988. The title was taken from a short story by the American author Truman Capote. The short story is about some chameleons that are very interested in music (especially Mozart’s piano sonatas).
However, it was not to attract chameleons that I wrote the wind quintet. It was rather these fascinating animals’ ability to change colour to match their surroundings that inspired me. Thus each instrument has been given its own colour (clarinet/red, oboe/yellow, bassoon/green, horn/blue, flute/violet), and each movement its own colour or central tone:
1st movement/red: expressive, passionate (clarinet dominant)
2nd movement/yellow: clear, acerbic. Mosaic movement where the dynamics profile various sound triangles.
3rd movement/green: excited, rushing, but always very rhythmic. The movement is characterized by a melodic as well as an accompanying layer. The layer gradually grows in volume and ends in an explosion (like a plant shoot before it erupts through the ground surface).
4th movement/blue: calm, clear, transparent. A calmly undulating soundscape, with occasional outbursts (like a fish that jumps up or the tongue of the chameleon shooting out after an insect).
5th movement/violet: mystical, magical. Typified by a primitive repeated rhythm with roots in Australian aboriginal music. This rhythm is wreathed around with expressive melodic arabesques.
- Lars Hegaard