Nigritella nigra - Black Vanilla Music

Nigritella nigra

A composition for clarinet and string quartet

Nigritella nigra's first part (until 3'50'') consists in a chord which color changes through the use of microtones. This is a musical image of the flower's vanilla scent. The short central passage (until 4'15'') is a deforming mirror. After that comes a distorted retrograde of the first part. The concentration of energy in microtones in the first part is transformed in more extravert gestures in the second part. The flower Nigritella nigra has a strong character!

Avignon - Acanthes

I composed Nigritella nigra in 1998, for my first participation to the contemporary classical music center Centre Acanthes. Sofia Gubaidulina was the guest composer, while Viktor Suslin was responsible for the composition workshop. You are listening to the recording of the final concert, featuring musicians from the Orchestre Lyrique de Région Avignon-Provence, conducted by Sylvio Gualda:

  • Didier Breuque, clarinet
  • Delphine Avcioglu, violin
  • Marc Aidignan, violin
  • Michel Tiertant, viola
  • Alain Avcioglu, violoncello

The Centre Acanthes took place in the beautiful Chartreuse de Villeuneuve-lez-Avignon, and July was very sunny. The concert happened in a medieval church, open on the outside. As you can hear on the recording, the cicadas were enjoying the hot wheather!

My first "classical" composition

Nigritella nigra music score

As you can see on my 1998 manuscript, I used a very unconventional notation for microtones. Actually, at the time, I didn't even know the word microtone! So, I wrote a minus sign to mean "about 1/6 tone lower than the pitch", and a double minus to mean "about 1/3 tone lower."

Nigritella stiriaca by Olivier Gerbaud A beautiful Nigritella stiriaca, another species of orchid. Thanks to Olivier Gerbaud, who sent me this picture of his after listening to the music. Picture © Olivier Gerbaud.


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