Hindewhu (Whistle Duet) (1989–1990)

for 2 classical clarinets in Bb (or 2 soprano saxophones or birbynes)

African Journal No 10

Dedicated to Lesley Schatzberger and Sharon Lyons

Publisher: Bardic Edition

Score BD 322

Duration: 8 minutes, 30 seconds


First performance: Friday 20 April 1990; Purcell Room, London, United Kingdom; Lesley Schatzberger and Sharon Lyons classical clarinets.

Programme note

The ‘hindewhu’ is the only non-percussive instrument used by the Ba-Benzele pygmies: a whistle, consisting of a tube cut from a hollow twig of a papaw tree. It produces only one sound, and the technique of playing consist in alternately blowing the whistle and singing or yodeling one or more notes. My piece of the same name was written with two early 19th-century clarinets in mind, which I chose for their unique, fruity timbre. I composed it mostly on the Greek island of Paros where I spent the summer of 1989, and finished it in London in 1990. It was written for Lesley Schatzberger and Sharon Lyons who gave the first performance on 20 April 1990 in the Purcell Room, London.


“Michael Blake's tight minimalist duet Hindewhu exploited the fruity resonance of the early nineteenth-century clarinet through a witty manipulation of simple pentatonic cells.”
Nicholas Williams, The Independent, London, Tuesday 24 April 1990


Chamber music