Op. 39 – Kandahar Rag

Clarinet quartet (3 clarinets, bass clarinet)

The Kandahar Rag by far the longest and most substantial of the rags I have written for clarinet quartet, and yet it began with the most trivial of musical materials. In 2003, at the onset of the Iraq War, I wrote a satirical little tune with the lyrics:

Come back to Kandahar
That’s where the daisy bombs and land mines are.
That’s where the crazy bums
Who’d kill us all for Allah’s sake retreat into their caves,
Directed in their madness by a man who never shaves.

Satire has a short shelf-life, and soon I was stuck with this tune. Later, when I needed something amusing for my clarinet ensemble, I used it as a starting point. It soon took off on its own, growing larger and more complicated than anything I could have envisioned for it beforehand.