Johnson, Julian

About the work

This Italian term, as used by art historians, is usually translated as ‘light and shade’. But it might also be given as ‘clear and obscure’ which is closer to my use of it as a title for this piece. Clarity of line and sonority emerges only gradually from a more obscure and nebulous background, and the course of the piece is charted between moments in which musical figures are clearly distinguished and sections in which their lines and rhythms are deliberately blurred. The effect might be compared to an object or view by turns lit by bright sunlight and obscured by dense mist. Just as in painting, my use of this technique of chiaroscuro is a means of creating a sense of space and distance.

First performance: Wind Ensemble, CoMA Summer School

1997, Bretton Hall, West Yorkshire

Technical notes

The piece does required the full instrumentation to work. At the same time, too much doubling would be inappropriate.


COMA (with funds from the Arts Council of England)


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score & parts


Sample score



10m 00s




Wind Ensemble


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