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“…fuzzy, dark, and biting…”

Listen to Tarantula

Performed by MIDI Mockup

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Program Note

By Michael Markowski

What better instrument to write a piece called Tarantula for than the fuzzy, dark, and biting tones of a bass clarinet?

Tarantula, as you might have guessed, was inspired in part by the Italian tarantella style, a wild and off-kilter folk dance believed to help treat tarantism caused by the bite of a highly poisonous wolf spider (Lycosa Tarantula). While traditional tarantellas are often written in 6/8 time, I wanted to stretch the use of compound time even further by juggling 7/8, 5/8, and other mixed meters to heighten the sense of hysteria. An “eight-legged” octatonic mode also crawls through the piece, inducing a kind of harmonic delirium, while “twitchy” grace note figures exaggerate the madness and mystery that holds us hostage.

Tarantula was written especially for clarinetist David Gould and premiered in 2019. It was adapted for bassoon and piano in October of 2023.

Commissioned By

David Gould


Markowski Creative (ASCAP)


Bassoon, Piano


No known errata.

Year Completed

2019 (bass clarinet version)
Rev. 2023 (bassoon version)

Weight N/A
Dimensions N/A


Chamber Music