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oboe, piano, violin, cello

About the Piece


Small man with large ratchet was composed in 2003 for the Paragon Ensemble’s Whatever Happened to Music concert series.  Unfortunately, due to the simple clerical mishap of the Artistic Director neglecting to check his inbox that day, the piece was never collected and so remains unperformed.

The title refers to the incessant, irregular repeated notes heard first played pizzicato in the violin, then later in the piano and oboe, which, to my ears sounded like someone turning the handle of a huge ratchet extremely slowly, so that single clicks are heard, rather than the usual continuous sound.  

Several observers at the time read a certain amount of innuendo into the title.  In all honesty, the possibility of it being interpreted this way never even occurred to me until it was pointed out.

The piece was composed in a single day, and is structurally fairly simple, being as it is based on a five-bar pattern that repeats with slight variations throughout the duration.

Small man with large ratchet, like it’s sister piece, Fumbling is Just a Desperate Cry for Help is effectively a musical miniature – a non-narrative musical scene that is presented to the listener, with no real development of any kind.  Again, as with Fumbling is Just a Desperate Cry for Help, it represents my interest in suggesting the physical, even instinctual in music over any overtly emotional or spiritual inference. 

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