Gwyneth Walker

Like the First Bird

for Flute, Clarinet, and Piano (2006)

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Like the First Bird was inspired by the hymn, “Morning Has Broken,” and most specifically, by the lyrics:

Morning has broken, like the first morning.
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing!

The work was formed from three elements: short patterns for Flute and Clarinet marked: freely, as a birdcall; “a tempo” sections in which the piano frames the bird calls within a fixed meter; and thematic passages derived from the hymn tune of “Morning Has Broken” (upward arpeggios initially in the key of C Major). This may be viewed as introduction (the bird calls from the distance), definition (the bird draws closer) and celebration (the theme arises).

These elements are woven together and juxtaposed throughout the music. The theme is presented in a triumphant manner in the middle of the work. At the end, the opening fragments reappear, and then fade. Perhaps the bird flies away.

Like the First Bird was composed as part of Gwyneth Walker’s residency at the University of Louisiana – Monroe in March, 2007. Specifically, this was created for flautist Sandra Lunte.

Notes by the composer