This Woman’s Work

When I read that Kate Bush was revisiting “This Woman’s Work” for hew new album Director’s Cut, I was inspired to create my own interpretation of this masterpiece of a song. It is a paean to parenthood that explores how relationships change over time, and how individuals change within that relationship. The intricate harmonic progression lends itself well to an instrumental version.

I chose to arrange it for clarinet choir for the textural possibilities of the different registers. The throaty lower register contrasts well with the clear tones of the clarion notes. The arrangement started with the first motif you hear (G-Bb-Eb-G-A); the chord inversions add instability to the harmonic structure, something that gives the song additional drama. Most of the new melodic material came from that motif. As the song continues, clarinets are added until there are six. After the climax, all but one line drop out.

Recording and production presented a few difficulties for me, since I had never recorded a clarinet before. The sound of the fingers closing the tone holes is a percussive effect that can be obtrusive if the mic is placed too close to the lower joint of the instrument. I found that placing the condenser mic at an angle above the sixth finger roughly six inches away captured the woody quality of the clarinet’s tone perfectly.