Audio extract (30 secs) from CD Morphosis (bsn - Arek Adamczyk, elec - Patrick Nunn)

Score (with CD)

Composer's Edition

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08-11-06 (WP) - DJRH, Royal Academy of Music, London (bsn - Alice Lee, elec - Patrick Nunn)

07-06-07 Concert Hall, Royal College of Music, London (bsn - Steven John Burnett)

22-05-08 DJRH, Royal Academy of Music, London (bsn - Olly Buxton)

25-05-12 DJRH, Royal Academy of Music, London (bsn - Dominic Tyler)

24-06-13 Akademia Muzyczna w Poznaniu, Aula Nova, Poland (bsn - Arek Adamczyk)

Programme notes

Score: Gonk

For solo bassoon and sound file (CD) / electronics [2004]

Duration: c. 6 mins.


Gonk was written as a response to a call for new works for solo bassoon and electronics from the Bassoon Department at the Royal Academy of Music. Its title is derived from one of many dictionary definitions of the same word – in this case, the definition ‘to prevaricate or to embellish beyond reasonable recognition’. Its musical connotations provide the starting point for the augmentation of the bassoon material.

The notion of embellishment implicit in the title can be seen in the development of the opening material for the bassoon (and to some extent the electronics) in which the melodic line is reworked in a series of variations. With one exception, in which the opening material is partly restated, the variations collectively strive towards an increasingly energised state until a point of virtuosity and liberation is reached, akin to the improvised solo licks of jazz legend Courtney Pine. Indeed, the ending requires the performer to respond with increasing dexterity and agility until they are free to ‘let loose’ in an improvised style as if the live instrument is attempting to free itself from the constraints of the accompaniment.

The premiere was given by Alice Lee (bassoon) and Patrick Nunn (electronics) at the David Josefowitz Recital Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London, on the 8th November 2006 as the selected work for the Florence Woodbridge Bassoon Prize.

gonk : /gonk/, vi.,n.

1. [prob. back-formed from gonkular .] To prevaricate or to embellish the truth beyond any reasonable recognition. In German the term is (mythically) gonken; in Spanish the verb becomes gonkar. “You're gonking me. That story you just told me is a bunch of gonk.” In German, for example, “Du gonkst mich ” (You're pulling my leg). See also gonkulator .

2. [British] To grab some sleep at an odd time; compare gronk out .

© Patrick Nunn 2005