wind quintet

John Oliver
John Oliver
Composition Date: 1996
Duration: 00:16:40
Genre: Woodwinds, Solo / Ensemble, Quintet (Flute / Oboe / Clarinet / Horn / Bassoon)


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Flute
  • 1 x Oboe
  • 1 x Clarinet
  • 1 x Bassoon
  • 1 x Horn
Click here to download full work (68.76 Mb - Not printable)

Programme Note:
I wrote GALLERY in the spirit of Bach's Musical Offering and the writings of painter Wassily Kandinsky. GALLERY began its life as a collection of sketches, written mainly when inspiration struck. The form of the work evolved from the material, without preconceiving a formal structure., In fact, the final order of the movements was hard to decide.
Lately, I have been thinking about temperament and the effect of sound on listeners. Sound is a continuum, untempered. Humans can discern approximately 72 steps within an octave, in the speaking register of their hearing. The equal tempered tuning system (that used on keyboard instruments, for example) allows for highly developed polyphonic music, using many, varied melodic and harmonic structures, but with only 12, equally-spaced steps per octave. Its weakness lies in its inherent inability to sound "restful", because of the constant beating of the sounding intervals. An overload of dissonance comes quickly to music sounding with this tuning. On the other hand, music played using just intonation (pure intervals spaced according to low-integer ratios) sounds restful, even at a higher level of intensity. Wind instruments tend to play pure intervals when they play together, without a piano. So, in GALLERY, I have written pieces using both systems.
The first movement resembles artist sketches for a series of paintings. Within the first movement, the sketches are titled “frame,” “resonance,” “points,” “lines,” and “plane.” (One can hear the reverberations of Kandinsky’s treatise “Point and Line to Plane” and an echo of the idea of Mussorgsky’s walking music in his “Pictures at an Exhibition” can be heard in the opening “frame” music.) At the end of this movement, you will hear a melody that reappears at important places throughout the various movements. In the second movement, "Points Breakdown," I use just intervals (7th to 12th harmonics) and canon technique to create what composer John Burke has called "bouncing around inside a dominant seventh chord." “Lines Interlacing,” the third movement, is subtitled “In the style of a gigue,” though it is a strict canon at the fourth in a tarantella rhythm that develops the “sketch” that appeared near the beginning. This same tune is then given a new mixed accompaniment in the fourth part, “Alluvial Plane.” The fifth part, “Eternity Canon,” is a trio of the high winds that combines the “points” idea of narrow linear movement with the rhythmic profile of “lines” and ends the phrases with the “resonance” model. All of this is organised as a canon at the unison that transposes up a major third with each iteration. This sends the players (and the listener) into the highest registers of the instruments, into undulating clusters, before a final descent. The sixth movement, called “Watercolours,” now combines the previous music into a new masterwork for all to hear. The sliding tones added to the “lines” material enriches the colour of the piece. Concepts of line and counterpoint mix traditional meaning with new and our study of “point and line to plane” is complete.

Commissioned by: CBC

Premiere Information:
1/26/1997 Tabaret Hall Ottawa Principal Winds of the National Arts Centre Orchestra


  • Call Number:
  • MI 5151 O48ga
  • Genre:
  • Woodwinds, Solo / Ensemble, Quintet (Flute / Oboe / Clarinet / Horn / Bassoon)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • August 22, 2008
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (42 p.) ;
    42 Pages
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
    Parts page count: 55
    5 parts ([55] p.) ;
    Height: 28 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn in F, Bassoon
    Sketches; Points Breakdown; Lines Interweaving; Alluvial Plane; Eternity Canon; Watercolours
Request a Repertoire Consultation
Suggest Modification for this Record

Available For:

  • Loan
  • Purchase
Available Products for this piece:

TitleDetailsPriceAdd this Product
Gallery Wind Quintet: Score
(downloadable PDF)
Gallery wind quintet: Score and Parts
Score and Parts
(downloadable PDF)
Gallery wind quintet by John Oliver (Score)
Printed on demand
Gallery wind quintet by John Oliver (Score and Parts)
Printed on demand
Gallery wind quintet
Library Loan