Project Description

for mixed quintet:  flute / clarinet Bb / piano / violin / violoncello

  • composition date: 2019
  • duration: ca. 14 min.
  • dedication:
    «For Camerata Nov’Arte»
  • premiere: 12/April/2019 | Bratislava, Slovak State Radio | Camerata Nov’Arte / dir. Luís Carvalho


Níl is a Persian (Farsi) word, from which the Arabian annir (or annil) and the Portuguese anil derive. It refers to a colour between dark blue and violet, known in English as indigo.

Despite being one of the seven colours of the rainbow, the human eye is relatively insensible to indigo’s chromatic frequency within the colour spectrum, and in fact, many people cannot distinguish it at all. This apparent paradox (the pure “simplicity” of the rainbow, versus its actual “complexity”) prompted me to write a musical piece inspired by the metaphorical conscientiousness that maybe we cannot also ever recognize the full scope of sounds existing in a musical work we listen. Of course, my piece is not, in any way, an attempt to describe the indigo colour, or any other colour for that matter; rather, it searches for a kaleidoscopic imaginary sonic representation (also metaphorical) of the chromatic spectrum of colour, light, sound and the infinite myriad of perceptible and imperceptible nuances both to the eye and to the human ear.

Conceived for a rather concise ensemble (quintet) of flute, clarinet, piano, violin and violoncello (otherwise known as the Pierrot ensemble, in homage to Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire of 1912, one of the first and most significant pieces written for this set), I additionally decided to limit even further the range of instrumental variety, by opting not to use any secondary instruments (piccolo, bass-clarinet, other keyboards, etc.). From this limited timbre palette, an effort was made to diversify as much as possible the sonic resources, and to get the maximum of dramatic content from the small group. Hence, the use of extended techniques such as bisbigliando, aeolian sounds, col legno tratto, play behind the bridge, play inside the piano, amongst others, to add a colouristic dimension to the musical dialogue. Nevertheless, the aim is to appeal to both performers and listeners alike, in a communion of the artistic process that is the most intimate characteristic of Art, that exclusively human manifestation.

Níl is dedicated to Camerata Nov’Arte, and was written for their tour to Slovakia in 2019. The group premiered it in Bratislava, at the Slovak State Radio (live broadcast), on April 12, 2019, conducted by the composer.

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