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Breathing Octane

Composed 2019


    bass clarinet

    drum set

Duration 8'

Commissioned by

    Pie for Two: Corinne Klemenc, bass clarinet |        Brandon Dodge, percussion

Program Notes

    Back when I was in middle school, my father gave me a 1GB MP3 player, which at that time was a solid amount of storage – enough to include Emerson, Lake, & Palmer’s Tarkus and Karn Evil 9, and nothing else. We went on a trip to visit family in Cleveland, Ohio from Central Pennsylvania, about 12 hours total, and I was armed musically with only these two epic works of progressive rock (about 50 minutes total), and I had absolutely no idea how impactful these works were to become on my musical and compositional development. 2018 saw an immense period of personal growth and strong realizations about where my musical ideas were springing from, and how I could best represent those ideas. Upon realizing I could write for percussion in 2018, and then drum set, which somehow took 8 years, suddenly the incredible virtuosity, creativity, and sheer power of 60s and 70s classic rock overwhelmed my musical system, and I have no desire to ever look back.

    Breathing Octane is a rock and roll theatre piece for bass clarinet and drum set, incorporating humor and stage theatrics that can be found in the likes of The Who (The Who Sells Out), formal clarity represented by Winwood and the folks from Traffic (John Barleycorn Must Die), and of course the unpredictability and sheer showmanship that the boys of ELP (Brain Salad Surgery) and my father’s supreme musical benchmark, Yes (Fragile, Close to the Edge, Relayer) can bring to the table. Add some tap dancing (a la Corinne Klemenc, one of the work’s commissioners), listen close, and feel the energy.


May 27 2019

Performance History

    03/23/2019 - The Fuse Factory, Columbus, OH | Pie for Two

    03/22/2019 - 3117 Warsaw Ave, Cincinnati, OH | Pie for Two

    03/21/2019 - The Listing Loon, Cincinnati, OH | Pie for Two

    03/20/2019 - Tim Faulkner Gallery, Louisville, KY | Pie for Two

Joseph Foster Harkins


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