(Tuned to the night)
Shábkūk is conceived in terms of mono-sounds, or monotones. The general pattern is the use of one sound and its adjacent related intervals, a quartertone up and down from the principal note . Their simultaneous occurrence creates the sense of one sound. Contrasting motives, thought patterns, or dualities are rare. Each of the work’s five sections establishes its own set or sets of monotones. Time organisation via rhythm, pulse, phrasing, melodic patterns, etc. is built upon the repetition of a note or groups of closely related notes. Depending on his or her own tuning and receptivity, the listener may, perhaps, grope for other dimensions of motion and of single sound.
Shábkūk literally means nocturnal tuning (from sháb, night and kuk, tuning). The first section, titled Night Sounds (Shábāviz, which is also the name for the night owl, night birds and insects), keeps to the high E harmonic; the second, Night’s Breath (Shábdám), to the low C of the cellos and double basses. The third, titled The Call (Bāng), preceded by a short introduction, reiterates the note F; a night bird ends its night call with a trill. In section four, Lament of the Night (Sháb-āváh), a bird of lamentations sings a multitude of monotones, and in section five, The Night Traveller (Shábgárd), ascending motion resulting from the movement of simultaneous trills leads back to the opening note of the whole composition.
Shábkūk, commissioned by the NIRT Chamber Orchestra, was written in January and February 1973, and first performed on 5th September 1973 during the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts by the NIRT Chamber Orchestra conducted by Catherine Comet.