Ocean Sound Catalogue
Written in 2019 for the Cara Quartet, CARA received its world premiere at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, NY, in February of 2020. The first of two separate movements- each composed for flute, violin, viola and cello- cara (to me) had always meant beloved, darling, dear, loved one, and also precious. As I was inspired by the warmth and depth of feeling conjured by the related meanings of cara, I didn’t learn that there was yet another meaning of this word until I’d finished composing the music! Regardless, this other meaning was the inspiration for the Cara Quartet’s name. The music is colorful, warm, dreamy and passionate, and aims to create a lush sense of longing. Using a silvery flute line which contrasts well with rich-sounding altered chords played and sustained by three string instruments, I aimed to create a palette of vivid, warm colors for the listener to experience. Perhaps you might experience something else.View Work
Carino Piccolo Orologio/Cute Little Clock
I love looking at beautiful little timepieces and remember being fascinated long ago by the tiny movements of a small, gilded gold mantel clock with a glass cover.
This timepiece, with its many precisely moving parts, stills holds my imagination and makes me want to travel back in time to Italy. Thus the Italian title Carino Piccolo Orologio (Cute Little Clock).
Carino Piccolo Orologio serves as the introductory first movement to Mandolin on the Moon.
While both movements feature time, this first movement represents an older era and includes segments that represent different parts of the day. The opening describes a beautiful morning in a lovely room with a charming atmosphere. Listen closely to the very beginning- you’ll hear the little clock parts moving together!
The following section transports you to Venice, where a gondolier glides his boat along the canal. Traveling again, you’ll find yourself walzing through another section. On and on you’ll journey while keeping time with the Cute Little Clock...until it winds down.View Work
The Chains of Love, Las Cadenas del Amor
Inspired by the poem Las Cadenas del Amor by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the music practically flowed out of my soul when I began writing it. Full of colorful yet chilling darkness with moments of heat, it also displays degrees of light in various prism form, which alternate with an occasional flash.
The poem seemed to beg me to co-create degrees of range, texture, musical color, intensity and mystery, using mezzo soprano as a vehicle reflected by piano, flute and alto flute.
Written at the invitation of Anna Tonna for Mujeres en Musica to commemorate the year of both
Cervantes’s and Shakespeare’s death, writing Las Cadenas del Amor was a work of love.
- Digital Score & Parts (PDF)
Day and Night Cannot Dwell Together
DAY AND NIGHT CANNOT DWELL TOGETHER are words attributed to the Suquamish and Duwamish leader Chief Seattle, who believed in ecological responsibility and respect for Native Americans’ land rights. The words mean just as day and night cannot exist together, the white man and Native American people cannot be together. However, Chief Seattle did forge friendship with a white settler David Swinson ‘Doc’ Maynard “one of Seattle’s primary founders and, compared to other white settlers, a relative advocate of Native American rights. Maynard’s friendship with Chief Seattle was important in the formation of the city of Seattle, and it was Maynard who proposed the city be named for this important chief” *.
The words Day and Night Cannot Dwell Together are part of a speech given during the signing of the Point Elliot Treaty of 1885, which guaranteed fishing rights and reservations for certain tribes, including the Suquamish Port Madison. Reservations were not designated for the Duwamish and some other Native American peoples.
Regarding white men’s abysmal treatment of Native Americans (past and present), my feelings run very strong.
* WikipediaView Work
Written for alto flute, clarinet and piano, the music of Februarium represents Northern cold, cloudy textures, refreshingly shiny clear ice, cloudy ice and black ice. Emotionally dark, or light, and cloudy, this second and shortest month of the year is potent, yet feels comfortingly gentle to me.
The name Februarium comes from Februum (“means of purification, an offering”), via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15th in the old Roman calendar”*. Its meaning is ‘of February’, and this genderless Latin name is the shortest month of the year in the Roman calendar (c. 700 BCE), Julian calendar (46 BCE) and Gregorian calendar (from 1582).
I’ve always had a fondness for cloudy, cool and colder months with alternating dark and light days. Quite fitting that the premiere of Februarium took place in February (2019) in the Northeast.
Figure 8 Dance
Written for Englewinds, Figure 8 Dance is a companion piece for honey bees as they follow the choreography and message of a figure 8 pattern and leave their home to forage for life-sustaining nectar and pollen. The instruments each represent a character or thing: the bassoon is the Queen Bee, the flute depicts worker bees. The rich, mellow-sounding English horn represents the comfort and safety of their home- the hive.
The jaunty opening melody is played by the bassoon, symbolizing the dance being ‘sung‘ by the Queen to encourage her workers to get busy. About two minutes into the piece, the mood becomes suspenseful, as the workers are told they must
leave their hive, fly out into the world and begin foraging for flowers, weeds and trees that provide them with their source of nourishment.
Once outside among the flowers, the workers begin to enjoy the fresh air and magnificent floral sights and smells (bar 45, triplets).
Eventually, the bees become so excited in their travels through gardens and flower beds that they grow intoxicated. When the Queen bee hears about this (from a tattler-forager) she summons them back to work...and back to work they go.
After some time, a human starts swatting some of the bees, and they warn the others that the person is also armed with a toxic spray.
Flying around ever-faster, they finally make their way back to the nest, just in time for another dance (this time it begins in a minor key). Now they make figure 8’s faster than ever and even introduce some new dance steps!
Flashes of Inspiration and Joy
Since childhood I have always felt inspired by Native American cultures. Their artistic, expressive, intuitive spiritual ways, incredible skills and natural respect for nature, animals, and their elders speaks to my soul and engages my imagination.
When I first heard of Joy Harjo, the Native American writer and artist of the Muscogee Creek Nation, I was further motivated to learn more about her. Reading her memoir Crazy Brave made such a strong impression on me, and that led to my composing Flashes of Inspiration and Joy. This composition is a tribute to her.
Early in 2019 I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Joy and share the 2Flutes’ recording of this composition, which is dedicated to her and featured on the 2Flutes’ 2019 album New York Tapestries.
My 2012 debut recording A Native American-Jazz Tribute/A Tune for America originally put me on a wonderful path to writing, playing, and recording more Native American-inspired music.
"...haunting interaction...beautiful...evocative tonal pallet. This CD is a listening joy." Patricia George, FLUTE TALK
"More engaging still is Flashes of Inspiration and Joy, written by Pamela Sklar... This is beautifully constructed and written by someone with a clear gift of melody; and Sklar knows how to showcase that melody, too..." Colin Clarke, FANFARE MAGAZINE
"Pamela Sklar’s hypnotic Native American flute solo... an absorbing, spiritually resonant atmosphere. Sklar’s warmly immersive playing bespeaks a deep involvement with instrument and idiom alike. Careful attention to line, phrasing, color, tempo, and ensemble..." Robert Schulslaper, FANFARE MAGAZINEView Work
Flow is that sought-after moment, feeling, situation, performance, groove, zone, quality of life, state or state of being that seems often brief or sometimes elusive. Just when things seem to be lining up, something interrupts. ! It could be a bleeping device, a truck backfiring or any loud, sudden noise. Maybe it's the noise in your head. ...Deep BreathView Work
Halloween is one of my favorite times, taking place during my favorite month of my favorite season. Just knowing the origin of this 2,000+ year old custom which originated with the Celts, makes me think about the supernatural... and some various mysterious activities (which may be going on at any time). Along with this, the societal permission & encouragement for us to deviate from the (esp.) weekday sartorial convention is very appealing to me. To be free of constraints (think or the noose-tie); to express one's dramatic, weird, bizarre or otherwise quite unusual (and fully creative) side...or self, is fun for me! Twilight, with its texture, color, enchanting lighting & atmosphere, is also my favorite time of day. It is calming, dreamy and transformative for me.
The vibes represented by the vibes played in this piece are meant to sound unfamiliar & mysterious, ethereal/celestial, soothing. One may not see something different, but one will feel. Something. The flute, more familiar-sounding, is sometimes at odds with the vibes. What do you think this means?
© Pamela SklarView Work
When I first heard of Hatshepsut I was intrigued because of her many abilities and achievements. The daughter, sister and wife of a king, she was generally considered to be a pharaoh who inaugurated a long peaceful era. She re-established international trading relationaships previously lost during foreign occupation and brought great wealth to Egypt. That wealth enabled Hatshepsut to initiate building projects that raised the caliber of Ancient Egyptian architecture to a standard- comparable to classical architecture, that would not be rivaled by any other culture for one thousand years. She managed to rule for about twenty years (1478-1458 BC).
As I read about and observed photographs of statues, reliefs and hieroglyphs of Hatshepsut, I wondered what her voice sounded like. I also thought about what some aspects of her personality might have been like.
It was surprising to me to read that she suffered from diabetes and arthritis and that her death was attributed to a carcinogenic skin lotion which led to her having bone cancer.View Work
Journey to the Afterlife
Journey to the Afterlife describes a process which involves amazing encounters never experienced on Earth. Multiple hues of darkness, foreign colors, lack of a heartbeat, non-physical sounds, perceived spirituality, and extraordinary varieties of energy all contribute to the quality of each journey taken by each individual.
The four instruments included here- viola, flute, bass clarinet and contrabassoon, represent a mysterious, colorfully darkening, slow (as perceived from the Earth Plane) and inner process. We can hear the music coming from a vast region light-years away, as we travel (but never move) through this field on the way to the afterlife.
© Pamela SklarView Work
Mandolin on the Moon
Composed for mandolinist Joyce Balint as a musical component of today’s exhibit*, Mandolin on the Moon portrays the excitement leading up to the launch and journey of ourcountry’s first manned lunar landing.
The music co-features string techniques of bowing as well as plucking, with all four instruments sometimes plucking simultaneously. They also co-feature time, a main element of speed.
Musically, Mandolin on the Moon addresses speed (tempo) and is played at 100 beats perminute, quarter note = 100. With the tempo marking swiftly, it opens with steady rhythmic pulsing of eighth notes, reflecting the public’s mounting excitement surrounding the anticipation of Apollo 11’s launch.
About two minutes into the piece, the tempo slows down. Almost there! Realizing how very farwe are from Earth and wondering what we might see on the moon and how we’ll feel beingabout 239,000 miles away from our planet, we look in awe at this solar system. What would it feel like to play an instrument in microgravity?
In Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo is known as the god of music, sun, and more- a great union of music and outer space! Additionally, it’s fitting to think that this god, for whom Project Apollo was named, is represented by the lyre, an ancient string instrument similar to the mandolin, both having ancient origins, plucked/played without a bow and tuned in the treble(upper) range.
In the Spring of 2018, I visited Houston’s Johnson Space Center and observed the historic mission operations control room. In addition to seeing a Saturn V rocket, I loved seeing golden
robonauts in various versions of human torsos and full bodies, as well as a golden spider with all eight legs. Who (in the world) could know that almost exactly one year later I would write Mandolin on the Moon and have it premiered for the *Hudson River Museum’s First Lunar Landing exhibit- in the Planetarium?
A Memory of You, (version II)
A Memory of You can represent a person, place, or time; a setting, a moment in time, a feeling, a dream. Sentiments are a powerful part of our memory. This music (version II) has made various people smile, chuckle, feel ecstatic, feel beauty, cry with sadness, feel like they're floating. Your reaction is completely valid and valued. After all, sentiments -especially nostalgia- are powerful.View Work
A Memory of You
A Memory of You is very personal. It may represent a person, place, or time; a setting, a moment in time, a feeling, a dream. Sentiments are a powerful part of our memory. This music has made various people smile, wonder, feel ecstatic, feel beauty, cry with sadness, speechless. Your reaction is completely valid and valued. After all, sentiments -especially nostalgia- are powerful.View Work
The Ocean We Want
For many years I’ve been entranced and spiritually nourished sitting by and listening to oceans in America and elsewhere. Approaching bliss, I become mesmerized while embracing the rhythmic textural sounds of the waves. Staring at glistening light over various shades of blue or blue-green water during a late afternoon, I also wish for the oceans’ health to stay strong.
The Ocean We Want is a dynamic and passionate tribute to the sustainability efforts taking place by the United Nations as our vital oceans suffer from climate change and pollution.
The opening of The Ocean We Want portrays the peaceful magnitude, great depth and incredible marine life living deep below the surface. As the music continues, it moves through stormy sections alternating with calmer classical segments meant to reflect the majestic power, beauty and dignity of our oceans’ naturally occurring waves, sometimes gentle yet increasingly volatile. The final section is what I hear when the sun wanes gently in the distance.
- Digital Score & Parts (PDF)9.99
The Inward Journey/ 2nd Movement of Two Journeys
The Inward Journey is a sequel to Third Eye and is the second movement of Two Journeys. This second journey is a very sustained, slow-moving, meditative and probing experience musically, as it is the actual journey (rather than a description) of leaving your world, the physical Earth plane and all things familiar, sometimes including your comfort zone. The journey is hypnotic and it might 'test' your patience, since some phrases don't resolve more immediately as we experience in our popular music culture (and much of Classical music). Nonetheless, there is an energy coming through which overrides the initial Patience Stage- waiting/trying to hear or feel something/settling our thoughts/letting go of where we are as we begin to transition, in order to move into 'being in the moment'.
The ending of this particular journey feels very mystical to me.View Work
Third Eye/ 1st Movement of Two Journeys
Written for Eight Strings and a Whistle, Third Eye and the Inward Journey (Two Journeys) represent separate but connected journeys towards self-awakening, awareness, enlightenment and greater spirituality.
Third Eye opens (begins, actually) with the flute playing a single, long high F# (one of the more mystical notes on the flute, to me). The opening rapid solo which flows quickly from that F# represents a brief ceremonial calling- a willingness to open and seek one’s inner truth to begin such an odyssey.
The three instruments share similar energy- the viola and cello vibrating wood via bowed or plucked strings, the flute using life breath to vibrate a silver tube.
Throughout the piece, longer stretches of uneven time signatures and differing lengths of sustained notes enable listeners to experience a feeling of being in the moment without measuring time as we do in the physical plane.
The music ends much like the opening with a single suspended flute note, but now with a high E. A seventh above the opening tone, the higher E symbolizes the seventh chakra (the crown chakra) which relates to pure consciousness.
The Inward Journey is a very sustained, slow-moving, meditative and probing experience musically, as it is the actual journey (rather than a description) of leaving your world, the physical Earth plane and all things familiar, including your comfort zone...at times. The journey is hypnotic and it might 'test' your patience, since some phrases don't resolve more immediately as we experience in our popular (and much of Classical) music culture. Nonetheless, there is an energy coming through, which overrides the initial Patience Stage- waiting/trying to hear or feel something/settling our thoughts/letting go of where we are as we begin to transition in order to move into 'being in the moment'. The ending of this particular journey feels mystical to me.View Work
A Tune for America (flute quartet version)
I have had a lifelong fascination with and great respect for Native American cultures. Their neverending struggles, highly imaginative artistic vision, spirituality, forms of dress & style, customs, belief in animal spirits and their deep respect for & connection with nature and different types of people (orientation, physical impairments) and high regard for their elders inspired me to write A Tune for America (included on the original recording of A Native American-Jazz Tribute). Musically the two styles compliment one another; the minor pentatonic scales of their flutes connect well with blues scales, altered notes and varied chord voicings used by great jazz artists.
(Please note: sheet music temporarily unavailable) The recording of the originlal version is available on track 9).View Work
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