dBm presents a newly commissioned work in 3 movements by Singaporean composer Bertram Wee. The work is unconventional – for prepared bass clarinet and baritone saxophone. We pushed to challenge the ideas of classical music norms to listeners and wanting to draw them into a world never before experienced. Our goal was to present to our viewers a gateway to the unknown/uncomfortable soundscapes uncommon to the everyday listener.
Our project was made possible with the generous support of the National Arts Council Singapore as part of the Digital Presentation Grant for the Arts (DPG).
A project birthed from friendship, our duo started with playing Lee Hyla’s We Speak Etruscan and since then Daniel and I have come a long way. It was an absolute pleasure working with Bertram, we started out experimenting with reeds and neither of composer nor dBm were sure which direction the piece was going to take. The piece was a built very modularly; Bertram presented us with a page of the music every week or so. One of my favourite parts of the project was conceptualizing the piece with videographer and producer, Sean & Sheng Hong. One fine afternoon, we were at POCO’s office brainstorming what the piece meant to us – we depicted it in facial expressions and movements in each body part as well as drawing inspiration from each other’s movement to create a physical expression of what the piece meant to us as an entity. As musicians, it was a challenge to come out of our shells and truly find a means to express what we want without our instruments. No more spoilers – please enjoy the video below if you haven’t already!
Giant thankyou to my duo partner, Daniel Yiau for such a productive and fun time working together; also for pushing my limits, trash talks, indulging my nonsensical thoughts, one too many screams at each other and many, many more memorable/crazy moments. Thankyou to Bertram for entrusting us to play your music – and for wanting to push our instrument’s limits! To Sheng Hong & Sean, thankyou for indulging our crazy ideas – definitely would not be possible without you believing in this project too!
dBm is a unit of level used to indicate that a power ratio is expressed in decibels (dB) with reference to one milliwatt. dBm is a contemporary music duo, comprising Daniel Yiau (Clarinets) and Michellina Chan (Saxophones), showcasing the power of new music as a clarinet-saxophone duo, a first in Singapore.