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Ryan Manchester » 2010 » February

Archive

Archive for February, 2010

New Works

February 24th, 2010

As of the end of the Fall Semester at Columbia, I’ve completed two new works.  The first, Currents, is scored for flute, Bb clarinet, piano, violin, and cello.  The pitch material for both melodic and harmonic functions were derived spectrally, and both use microtones to provide added color to the piece as a whole. This is not a purely microtonal work, but utilizes the microtones in a natural, harmonically supportive way.

The pitches were derived by analyzing three violin harmonics, A, Ab, and C#.  Each analysis showed between 4-6 prominent harmonics of the fundamental, and 2-4 prominent overtones. The harmonics were used to create three separate modes, which provides sonic stability for each section and gives interesting results through modulation.

The aesthetic approach in Currents was exploring the direction and redirection of energy through active gestures in a harmonically stable environment, or stasis in the context of a modulating harmonic world.  The ideas are simple, yet I feel the execution is my most mature, clear, and artistic.  Members of the Argento Chamber Ensemble read Currents in December.

Both the performers and conductor gave me excellent feedback and the piece was quite well received. A rough recording of this session will be available soon.  Chicago-based group, Accessible Contemporary Music will read it as part of their weekly reading sessions this season. A link to that reading will be posted as soon as it’s available. I do have plans of revising and lengthening Currents, so it’s a work in progress, but the material assembled now works as a complete thought.

The second piece, Ananta, involves the same process in regards to spectrally derived modes, but is different from Currents in that Ananta explores one mode and is much slower paced.  It is scored for toy-piano and cello and focuses on melodic development in the cello and harmonic support in the toy-piano.  Conceptually, the music is quite introvertive and the challenge is establishing a balance between intro- and extroversion. Introversion being the self and expressing the individual parts and extroversion being cross-communication between the performers.  Ananta received first place in the UNcaged Toy Piano Call for Works, hosted by toy-pianist Phyllis Chen.  It was going to be featured on the Sounding Off Tour, but due to unforeseen conflicts was removed along with other pieces.  It will be performed in the near future and a performance date will be posted as soon as it is scheduled.

First Semester at Columbia

February 24th, 2010

This will be my first post in a long time because I’ve been so busy. Composing has been taking up the majority of my time (which is a good thing).
I’ve recently completed two pieces, both of which derive pitch material from spectral principles. This was my first attempt in using spectral techniques and since I’m working with Tristan Murail at Columbia, I saw a great opportunity to learn from a true master. Murail is a fantastic teacher. Not once has he tried to impose his way of thinking or working on any student, but instead takes what the student has done and works to make that statement stronger and more clear.

His teaching method paired with his modest, approachable personality makes him one of the better teachers with whom I’ve studied. After only one semester, I feel my music is bridging the gap between the purely conceptual and the artistic.