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Lyrically modern prize-winning piece for bass clarinet & piano, working for the stretch goal of $3464 to make a music video! Read more

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This project was successfully funded on September 12, 2012.

Lyrically modern prize-winning piece for bass clarinet & piano, working for the stretch goal of $3464 to make a music video!

About this project

Kickstarter was a smashing success! A huge, heartfelt thanks to everybody who backed this project!

If you missed out on Kickstarter, you can still get the recording! It will be released just as soon as I can get it printed. When it's ready, it will be available here:

Get the recording

• — • — •

I’m composer and pianist Paul Cantrell, and I collaborated with the excellent Pat O’Keefe on bass clarinet to create The Broken Mirror of Memory, a piece in four parts that form one taughtly woven 19-minute musical journey. It’s my strongest work — best recording I’ve ever made — and I’m really excited to get it out to the world!

And guess what? It’s already composed, rehearsed, premiered, recorded, mixed, and mastered … and it even has awesome cover art. After years of hard work, this thing is ready to go!

But I can't get it off the ground on my shoestring budget. I need funding to get it printed, distributed, and publicized.

This project's minimum goal on Kickstarter is just barely enough to get the recording printed and distributed. It does not include any kind of marketing. If we can beat that minimum goal, that will unlock some additional stretch goals that will allow me to promote the music!

  • Stretch goal #1: GET THE WORD OUT ($1864) — SUCCEEDED! I'll run an AdWords campaign, send promotional letters and copies of the CD to conventional and online radio stations, and a buy a 1/6 page print advertisement in The Clarinet. I've never promoted any of my compositions or recordings in this way before. You can make it happen for the first time!
  • Stretch goal #2: MAKE A MUSIC VIDEO ($3464). A music video for avant-garde classical music with no words? Of course! What could be more natural? I'll use my computer programming skills to create an engrossing video for one of the piece's for parts (all abstract, no plot or actors). I'm thinking something along the lines of this gorgeous video — but with visuals evolving in a way that's tightly integrated with the musical structures. A cool video on YouTube and Vimeo would not only generate more buzz for the recording, but would be a fine piece of art unto itself!
  • Stretch goal #3: LOCKED

The Music

You can hear snippets of it throughout the project's video (above). You can also hear Part 1 over at In the Hands, my music blog / podcast. Here's my attempt at describing the whole piece, from the score's performance notes:

“Entanglement, soliloquy, tango, flight: each movement poses a problem from which the next unfolds. Themes continually resurface, transformed, as the music reinvents its own past — the endless process Gabriel García Márquez described as ‘piecing together the broken mirror of memory from so many scattered shards.’ The coda gathers everything together, grappling, burning  down — and then, from the embers, a simple benediction emerges, present all along, now laid bare. We discover in retrospect that the music’s destination has always been its source.”

Others have said very kind things about it:

“The music itself is at once poignant and parodic, touching the soul, yet coyly elusive. Each movement is highly expressive, even romanic, replete with rhapsodic sweeping gestures; the harmonic language teases tradition, while maintaining a disembodied distance from readily recognization tonic-dominant relationships. … [a] profound and deeply moving work.” —Eric Mandat in The Clarinet, Vol. 39 No. 3

“Paul Cantrell’s ‘Broken Mirror of Memory’ is that elusive creature that all performers are looking for — a piece of new music that is creative and fresh while being consummately idiomatic for the bass clarinet. It’s a fantastic addition to the growing repertoire for the instrument.” —Gregory Oakes

“The structure and the themes are ingeniously presented. As a listener you really have to go deep into the piece to catch all actions.” —Stephan Vermeersch

The Long Saga

I first wrote the piece in 2000-2003, for piano and cello. Several wonderful cellists read and even performed the piece (or parts thereof). Parts of it worked great, but a lot of it just never seemed to get off the ground. Although the cellists were great, the music didn't seem to be. I put the piece on ice.

Fast forward to late 2008, when Pat was our guest at the upcoming Keys Please. I'd heard him play a bass clarinet solo that totally blew my mind at a Carei Thomas concert years before, and had wanted to write for him ever since. I gave him the first movement of Broken Mirror just an experiment on bass clarinet, thinking, “oh, it probably won’t work.” Wow, was I wrong about that! From the first time we rehearsed together, I knew I'd found the missing ingredient to make Broken Mirror take flight.

I set about re-imagining the piece for bass clarinet — simply adapting some sections, and completely rewriting others. Having first written for cello broke me out of presumptions about what bass clarinet music is supposed to do; this piece is unusually singing and melodic for new bass clarinet repertoire. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is a bass clarinet piece now.

The project has always run on a shoestring budget and borrowed time. Recording the piece took the next two years; I spent another year just working on editing and mixing. Then, just when it was about ready for release, I got a call….

The Prize — and the Urgency

The International Clarinet Association awarded this piece first place in their 2012 composition competition. (Woohoo!) That meant the piece was under embargo until its big premiere at the August 2012 “ClarinetFest.” That premiere just happened, and was tremendously successful. One listener told me, “people were listening so intently as it came to the end, the audience was completely silent. That hardly ever happens.”

This project is now on a fast track timeline. There’s now a little bit of buzz around it, people are hungry for the recording, and I want to get it out there quickly!

The Rewards

First and foremost, of course, is the recording itself. I can't send you a photo of it yet, of course — that's what I'm raising money for! Here is the awesome cover art, courtesy of Andrew Bessler's design and Paige Whitney's photography:

In addition to the CD itself, you can get a nice little art print of the cover design.

You can get the meticulously engraved sheet music for the piece. I put a lot of work into making the score appealing not only to performers, but to anyone who enjoys a beautiful visual and tactile experience.

Both the CD and the sheet music come with free shipping in the US when you get them as a Kickstarter reward! You'll be able to order them after the Kickstarter project is done, but you'll have to pay for the shipping.

Jumping from the polished to the completely raw, I'm giving out original draft pages of the score as rewards. That’s “original” as in “this is the sheet of paper on which Paul first wrote down some of the music as he sat at the piano.”

There will be a mystery poster! What will it look like? It's a mystery! Probably some mixture of musical notation, a MIDI-editor-style view (similar to the Music Animation Machine), and spectrogram. What are those, you ask? They visualize conversations between the composer and the performer…

…between the performers and their instruments…

…and between the instruments and the air:

Now picture these three visualizations — thought, action, and sound — spread across a poster showing not just the 16 seconds above, but the entire piece!

If you enjoyed how I walked through parts of the music in the video, you might want to sit down with me at my piano and look at the whole thing together that way. It would be a good time!

Finally, if you're a Vanderbilt, or just exceptionally awesome, you can get the mega-reward: a small commission for the instrument of your choice.

Check the rewards column at the right of the page for donation levels and details.

Any questions?

Please let me know, and I'll do my best to answer them!


  • For rewards sent within the US & Canada, shipping is free for all my Kickstarter rewards!

    (You will still be able to order the sheet music and CD after the Kickstarter project ends, but the shipping will no longer be free.)

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  • I will cover shipping costs up to 1/3 the reward level. So, for example, for the $24 scores, I would cover up to $8 of shipping; for the $121 original pages, I would cover up to $40.33 in shipping. I'll get in touch with you if the shipping runs more expensive than that for your country, and we can work it out!

    If you'd like to know in advance how much extra your international shipping will cost, please contact me and I'll try to figure it out!

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  • Of course. You get both a bass clarinet part in Bb (with a few piano cues), and a piano score that includes the bass clarinet part in concert pitch.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    21 backers

    Very high quality digital download of the recording! (Choose either 320 kbps AAC, lossless 44.1kHz / 24 bit, or lossless 96 kHz / 24 bit.)

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    Pledge $8 or more

    35 backers

    THE CD, in all its glory! (Also includes the high-quality download on request.)

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    Pledge $12 or more

    14 backers

    TWO finished CDs — one for you to keep, and one for you to give away as a gift!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $24 or more

    20 backers

    The score of the piece, engraved in Paul's custom-designed music typeface, printed in crisp, gorgeous detail on 60lb cardstock, and housed in a beautiful bookshelf-friendly color sleeve. Also includes 2 CDs.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $36 or more

    12 backers

    A small art print of Andrew Bessler's luscious cover design, made with my sweetheart Paige's awesome photo. Also includes SCORE + 2 CDs.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $54 or more

    9 backers

    A lavishly detailed poster-sized visualization of the music itself, showing every single note of the piece in an information-rich homage to Tufte. Also includes ART PRINT + SCORE + 2 CDs.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $81 or more

    1 backer

    Paul will sit down with you at his piano for a heart-to-heart about every detail of the piece — or whatever else you want to talk about! Also includes POSTER + ART PRINT + SCORE + 2 CDs.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $121 or more

    5 backers Limited (7 left of 12)

    Two pages of the handwritten draft of the score. Note that this is not a copy! It is the actual paper on which Paul first wrote down the music as he sat at the piano. You choose your pages; those who pledge first get to pick first. Also includes HEART-TO-HEART + POSTER + ART PRINT + SCORE + 2 CDs.

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    Pledge $512 or more

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    COMMISSION: Paul composes a short piece for the instrument of your choice. Also includes PAGES OF ORIGINAL DRAFT + HEART-TO-HEART + POSTER + ART PRINT + SCORE + 2 CDs.

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Funding period

- (16 days)