Metamorphosis: A Butterfly's Journey of Transformation, Op. 9

for Clarinet in Bb, Trumpet in C, and String Quartet

Opus 9, 2018

Duration: 9m

Commissioned by Cara Pollard and recorded by the Imbroglio Sextet.

Perusal Score
  1. The Catapillar

  2. Chrysalis (A Meditation)

  3. Flight of the Butterfly


Metamorphosis is an approximately 9-minute work in 3 movements, each segueing into the next. On the surface, it is a musical depiction of the lifecycle of a butterfly. Nothing more really needs to be said about that. This work could easily accompany nature videos of each life-stage and make perfect sense.


But as metaphor, I find the butterfly particularly inspiring, as have countless others. Whether it's something as mundane as an ordinary person retreating from the world in some way to acquire new knowledge or skill... or as profound as experiencing a spiritual awakening through prayer or meditation. In either case, the person emerges... transformed. It was the metaphor rather than the literal depiction that inspired me to write this piece.


1. The Caterpillar


The first movement takes place in the ordinary world, limited by time and duality. Even the tempo is a strict quarter = 120 bps, clock time. The music evokes a tango, but this tango is the precarious dance of life through all the challenges, mysteries, and dangers of the world. Having successfully navigated those dangers, however, one is still left with a longing for more. Sooner or later, the subject feels the need to withdraw and turn inward in search of deeper meaning.


2. Chrysalis (A Meditation)


I believe that it is during moments of meditation—however one chooses to practice it—that the deepest transformations occur. But our vantage point here is from the outside looking on. From the outside, nothing much appears to be happening. A meditating person may simply appear to be in a trance. A chrysalis is just a ball of silk. The only evidence that a transformation has occurred is what happens afterward. What marvels must have been experienced to result in such a transformation! 


3. Flight of the Butterfly


Finally, the creature emerges, completely transformed, having acquired new skills and perspectives, and able to navigate the world from a completely new vantage point. The butterfly dances and soars in triumph, a beautiful and marvelous creature.