|BUY score & parts|
the 2nd movement was commissioned by a consortium of players consiting of:
|Annie Stevens - Virginia Tech.
Rob Snaderl Radford University
John Kilkenny George Mason University
Scott Herring University of South Carolina
William Moersch University of Illinois
Jim Petercsak SUNY Potsdam
Omar Carmenates Furman University
Andrea Venet - University of North Florida
|Tom Burritt University of Texas
Phil O’Banion Temple University
Colin Hill Tennesee Tech
Cécile & Robert Van Sice
Svet Stoyanav University of Miami
Eric Willie University of North Carolina Greensboro
Michael Burritt Eastman School of Music
Justin Alexander - Virginia Commonwealth University
These percussion etudes explore ideas that in my view have been for some time at the frontier of new music.
The 1st one -Homage to Nancarrow- is concerned with the perceptual illusion of multiple simultaneous speeds or tempi.Nancarrow’s music developed in actuality multiple speeds. This was not an illusion. Yet, the irrational rhythms necessary to create his music cannot be played accurately by human performers. Mechanical pianos or computers are required for their precise reproduction. This movement explores the type of rhythms that create the illusion that multiple independent tempi are being heard while remaining playable by musicians. These polyrhythms are playable because they contain a common pulse that binds them together. The illusion of multiple speeds works when the composer and the performer manage to conceal this common pulse exposing only that which makes these rhythms ‘feel’ completely independent. In the resulting music the five percussion players share one time while creating the illusion that each instrumental part is running free at its own independent time. The type of polyrhythms I worked with were used already by Chopin in his Fourth Ballade and more recently by Ligeti in his 6th piano etude. However, I wanted to ‘stretch’ their possibilities to the very limit. I wanted to explore not only the appearance of having two or more musical lines running at different speeds but also the illusion that these lines were accelerating or decelerating with regards to each other.
The 2nd slower movement is a melodic etude, but one where we perceive melodies and themes, slow and fast, entwined or laced in layers of pulse. In a poetic sense, I would like to think that the recurring melodies are progressively heard through ‘layers of time’. The movement opens with a melodic phrase in its simplest form. As we hear this slow tune, we barely think about time and pulse because of the simplicity and bareness of the context. As the movement progresses, the context changes and the initial melody is presented in various polyphonic incarnations, each layer suggesting a different pulse, and to that extent too, a different time. In this way, what changes in this melodic etude as the music unfolds is not only the pitch and phrasing that give the melodies their identity, but the complexity of the context in which we hear them.
In the 3rd movement Visita a la Frontera- I wanted to revisit a central theme in 20th century art: the discontinuity of form when more than one story are told at the same time.
AV, May 2017.